F***ing Wizards. The irrational anger this team fosters within my body is something that makes no sense but is palpable nonetheless, perhaps not least of all because John Wall is way too cool of a player to be inextricably tied to a franchise so thoroughly and continually moribund.
Oh, wait, this is a game recap. The Boston Celtics have looked decidedly uneven and not infrequently exhausted over the home stretch. While much of that can be chalked up to the NEVERENDING WAVE OF INJURIES, it doesn’t make the inevitable defeat any less painful. Despite a decent first half, the lack of energy caught up with the Cs and the Wiz rode a brutal fourth quarter to a 113-100 win over our heroes.
THE GAME FLOW
This was a fistfight from opening tip. Two offenses firing everything at their disposal and often doing so somewhat indiscriminately, with a lot of relentlessly jacked threes and blatant aggression. The Wizards hung tough against the Celtics onslaught, to be sure, with a little bit of swagger added—like that running steal and dunk by Wall, plus the sharpshooting of Otto Porter.
But the star of this first quarter was never in doubt for a second. Jaylen Brown had absorbed the humiliation of the Raptors and the frustration of the supposed-to-be-tanking Hawks and wasn’t f***in’ having any more of it. He went on a 19-point tear before the Q1 bell rang, nailing five of his six trey attempts. Al Horford and Terry Rozier ran a 1-5 pick and roll as Al so often ran with Isaiah but in this case with the intention of getting the ball immediately to Brown, and it paid off.
Nothing that initially appears that easy stays that easy, of course, and this was no exception. Wall started to really heat up in the second quarter, scoring through trips to the line, treys and every other weapon in his arsenal. Tomas Satoransky also did estimable work as the Wizards’ secondary facilitator, finding a variety of ways to involve himself in plays in a way to which the Celtics couldn’t always easily respond.
Boston’s bench again served the role it has for so much of the season: preventing the opposition from making any real inroads for a victory. Greg Monroe and Semi Ojeleye did the most quality work on that side of things, and along with a surge of offense from Jayson Tatum (who’d been cold much of the first half), the Celtics fought their way to a 54-52 halftime lead.
The pig spoor started to hit the wind-spinner (shoutout 30 Rock) in the beginning of the game’s second half. Tatum and Aron Baynes attempted to assert as much control as they could over the proceedings—Tatum on the offensive end, ALL OF AUSTRALIA on D—but Wall’s streak from the second quarter continued and brought the Wizards to the lead. Make no mistake, this is a man eager to be back playing the game of basketball, and he’s pissed at the talk circling regarding his team’s potential irrelevance. He is unquestionably a franchise player, it’s just that he’s never really had a franchise.
As the Washington lead built to eight points, things built to a troublesome…impasse isn’t quite the right word but there did seem to be a sense of impending doom at certain moments. These Boston Celtics are f***ing tired, man, and no doubt carrying a certain demoralization with the news that Kyrie Irving won’t come back even for the playoffs, whether they admit as much public or not. (They obviously aren’t going to admit it.) The Wizards took advantage of that clear exhaustion and the bench, peopled by promising young folks like Kelly Oubre and weirdo misfits like Mike Scott and Jason Smith, went to work and brought the Celtics to a 79-72 margin.
The wheels fell completely off the cart in the fourth quarter. Whether it was defensive breakdown, apathy or just plain fatigue, the Celtics had little in the tank to oppose the Wizards in the first half of this frame. Even signs of life, like a Horford steal turned fast break, ended poorly; the team couldn’t buy a shot and allowed D.C. to go on a 13-5 run. It soon became a 19-10 run. The Wiz led 96-82 with just three minutes left in the game, and this one seemed as good as done. Though the Cs reserves shot well, including Kadeem Allen, Jonathan Gibson and Jabari Bird, it wasn’t enough to close a double-digit gap created by Kelly Oubre’s consecutive three-point daggers.
HOT ISH: The first half, especially the first quarter, when the Celtics were tight on both ends of the floor.
NOT IT: The second half. It seems like an exercise in futility to piece apart every factor of this loss when the ultimate culprit was sheer exhaustion. I don’t think this defeat has much of any bearing on how the playoffs go, even if they somehow draw the Wizards, which remains unlikely.
And here’s his wild first quarter as summarized by treys: