March 14, 2018 | TD Garden | Boston, MA
The Boston Celtics were absolutely depleted due to injuries as Kyrie Irving (knee), Jaylen Brown (concussion), Al Horford (illness), and Marcus Smart (thumb) all sat out on Wednesday, which allowed the complacent Washington Wizards to show up. Head coach Scott Brooks literally begged his team during the course of the game to play to their potential and by the end of the “rollercoaster ride”, as Brooks put it, the road team came out victorious. “I just begged them, ‘please, play harder. Pretty please,’” Brooks shared from his halftime speech.
“It tested where we were as a team,” Beal said. “We could have easily folded and went the opposite direction. We continue to drop in the seedings or we could have, forget about last night and move on to tonight. Granted we were down 20 at one point. It got ugly for us, they came out and played a lot harder than we did for the first half. I definitely credit my teammates. We did a good job of staying poised and battling this one out.”
(Photo: Brian Babineau via Getty Images)
Little Effort Leads To Horrendous Start
Less than six minutes into the game, Washington found themselves down 21-6 and looking like they were going to get run out of TD Garden by Boston’s G League team. Midway through the second quarter, the Wizards found themselves down 20 points, 51-31, and reeling. Boston shot 53.7 percent from the field in the first half including a ridiculous 6-of-7 from beyond the arc, but granted, Washington did not do much to make things difficult for the Eastern Conference two seed. The Celtics came into Wednesday’s game 38-0 in games that they were leading by 15 or more points. In the first half, the home team led the battle on the boards 25-14 and had 14 points on second chance opportunities. Fixing those issues at intermissions was a big reason why Washington ended up victorious.
Bradley Beal Comes Alive In Third And Late
In the first half, Beal served as the distributor for his team with a then game-high six assists opposed to just five points on 2-of-5 shooting. In the third quarter, Beal came alive with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He was scoring a variety of different ways and single handedly gave his team a lead entering the fourth quarter, 81-80. The All-Star shooting guard would add nine more points in the fourth quarter to help fight off the Celtics’ run. Any Brad Stevens led team is extremely well coached and Beal noticed that when Boston was in D.C., they were able to take away some of his go-to moves off the dribble. That he was still able to go for 34 points on the second night of a back-to-back is extremely impressive.
Jodie Meeks Saves Face Big Time
Late in regulation, Washington decided to play the foul game as Beal drove for a layup down three with 20.1 seconds to play. Shane Larkin knocked down both of his free throws to put Boston up by three with 12.5 to play and Beal missed a decently open three-pointer with 7.1 seconds to play, but Tomas Satoransky helped retain possession as the ball went out of bounds with 5.5 seconds to play.
With Markieff Morris inbounding on the baseline and getting a generous five-second count, he could not get the ball back to Beal and settled for a cutting Porter. The Wizards’ wing was clear for a dunk or layup, but knowing time and score, he was able to kick it out to none other than 32.8 percent three-point shooter Jodie Meeks who had specifically checked in for 46.3 percent three-point shooter Satoransky as an extra threat from beyond the arc. Potentially instinctually, Marcus Morris crashed on Porter at the rim to give Meeks a wide open attempt from the corner and the rest was history. The shot was the Wizards first game-tying or winning three-pointer in the fourth quarter or overtime since Beal drained a game-winning three-pointer with one second left against San Antonio on November 4, 2015.
“No matter how many shots I miss, I have enough confidence in myself to feel better about the next one going in,” Meeks shared. “In practice, I put the work in, before and after practice, but just to have the confidence from my teammates means a lot.”
“Yeah, I saw him,” Porter said about his overtime forcing pass. “Whenever I took a dribble, I didn’t know what the defender in the corner was going to do. So, I acted like I was going up for a layup and he just froze and it was an easy pass to Jodie. Jodie was waiting the whole time. He had his feet set the whole time so all I had to do was get it there. That shot is like a layup, he can make that shot in his sleep so, I knew it was going in as soon as he shot it.”
“Man, I was thinking, ‘what the hell you thinking, Otto?’,” Beal recalled. “Cause he had a layup, he had a layup, and I didn’t know who was in the corner. Sure enough, it was Jodie. You know, it was one of those moments you was like ‘ahhhh’ and then you was like ‘yeah!’ It was a great IQ play. That’s being aware of who’s on the floor. Very unselfish play, too. That was definitely the lifesaver of the game.”
Ian Mahinmi Carries Early
Two games since getting benched on the road in Miami, the $64 million man recorded his first double-double with Washington. He finished the game with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds, six of which were offensive, in 26 minutes of play. He also chipped in with a steal, block and assist as the only member of the second unit to finish with a net-positive, +2. In the first half, he was seemingly the only one trying as he was generating results on both ends of the court. He was even scoring when on the move, which is always impressive for him. If Washington is able to simply get a net-positive out of him when he is on the court, it will go a long way even though it will never amount to the contract he was gifted.
Total Team Effort
Beal obviously led the way in scoring and Meeks hit the big shot to get things to the extra sessions, but it was the contribution of everyone, especially in the second half, that got the job done. Markieff Morris finished with 20 points including 11 in the second quarter on 4-of-4 shooting to allow Washington to finish the dreadful first half on a 10-0 run to get the deficit down to seven by intermission. Some of those timely buckets to give the road team hope even came in isolation situations against his twin brother Marcus. Porter, who was obviously a big part in Meeks’ shot, had 18 points and 11 rebounds with all the boards coming after intermission. Both Morris and Porter knocked down essential three-pointers in the second overtime to give Washington separation on their way to victory.
Next Game: Washington will return home in a rematch with the Indiana Pacers with the all important season series and playoff tiebreaker on the line.