The Celtics waited 71 years to play a Christmas day game on the Garden parquet. Maybe they should’ve waited one more year.
The Cs ended up on the wrong end of a 111-103 decision as the Washington Wizards were in control almost the entire way. Like last season’s playoff series, this one saw bodies all over the court on numerous occasions – but the Wiz didn’t back down this time, doing damage on the boards and scoring 60 points in the paint. Bradley Beal tallied 10 points in the fourth quarter on his way to a game-high 25. Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum had 20 apiece for Boston.
The Game Flow
The Wizards got off quickly, taking an 11-5 lead in the first five minutes. They stretched it out to 23-16 and closed the quarter with a 30-24 margin. This set the tone for how the entire game would play out. Beal led all scorers in the quarter with nine, while Kyrie had eight.
The Cs opened the second with a turnover, and the Wizards took advantage to drain a wide-open jumper. Brad Stevens wasn’t happy and called one of his quick timeouts. Whatever Mad Brad said helped, because the Celts then put together a 12-4 burst that tied the score and provoked a Washington timeout. The Wizards, though, grabbed the lead back and held it for the next several minutes, until a Tatum jumper with 51 seconds left put Boston ahead for the first time. But Washington scored the last two buckets to take a 52-49 advantage into intermission. John Wall had eight points in the period.
At the half, Beal remained the game leader with 15 points. For Boston, Al Horford, Tatum and Irving (still) had eight apiece. And the Cs picked up another point, because a Marcus Smart long jumper was reviewed and changed from a two to a three. Thus, the halftime tally was actually 52-50, Wizards.
Brad told the sideline reporter that Boston needed to be better at transition defense. And yet, Otto Porter got free and drained a triple when the Wiz pushed the ball up on their first possession. This triggered an 8-2 run and another Boston timeout. Washington extended to a 65-54 lead on a Marcin Gortat and-one, however Jaylen Brown matched it (and even made his free throw).
Kyrie, who had been ice cold, finally broke out with a trey and two driving layups, and when Tatum swished a triple in transition, the Celts were back to within 71-67. That was followed by a couple of minutes of missed layups and turnovers; Marcus Morris (back after a long absence with his knee) failing to burn his twin brother one-on-one; and finally a terrible call by horrible ref Scott Foster, who wrongly took away a Horford hoop on a charge, despite Gortat being in the restricted area. Fortunately, a Terry Rozier corner three with three seconds left kept the Cs within four, 80-76, heading to the fourth.
At that point, Irving had 15 points and 5 assists; Horford 12 points, 6 boards, 5 assists; and Rozier 10 points, 6 rebounds. Porter had 12 points in the period to surge to a game-high 19.
After being on their heels almost the entire game, the Cs stormed ahead in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter. Smart nailed a three and assisted on an alley oop dunk by Daniel Theis. When Tatum dropped a three in transition, the Celts had an 87-85 lead. Beal tied it on a third-chance layup (ugh!), but a Daniel Theis jumper restored the lead. Again Beal scored off a Wiz offensive board – tied at 89 with 7:27 to play.
Triples by Rozier and Kyrie put Boston up five, and just when it seemed the Cs would take command, they crumbled. Wall and Kelly Oubre combined for seven straight points to put the Wiz back in front, 97-95. After a Kyrie drive went halfway in but spun out, Beal got an and-one off a fast break, and Wall stole a pass and fed Beal for another two. That made it a 12-point run and a 102-95 Washington lead.
Tatum broke the streak with two free throws, and the Cs had a last gasp with a four-point possession (Tatum FT and Rozier triple after a Horford offensive board). But the Wizards again got an offensive rebound that forced the Celts into desperation fouling. Washington closed it out on 21-8 run in which Boston did nothing right:
- The Cs’ bench scored 43 points, led by Rozier (16), Theis (12) and Smart (10).
- Tatum, 7-9 shooting (2-2 from the arc).
- Celts were 14-29 from three.
- For Washington, John Wall had 21 points and 14 assists; Porter was 7-10 (3-5 from deep), 20 points; and Oubre shot 7-13 for 16 points off the bench.
- Wizards had 28 free-throw attempts to Boston’s 17.
- Poor defensive rebounding doomed the Celtics. Washington had 14 offensive boards and 18 second-chance points.
- Jaylen was 0-5 from the arc, just 3-9 overall, and 2-5 at the line for eight points. He did have nine rebounds, but missing several wide open shots really hurt.
- Marcus Morris tried hard but was rusty, couldn’t make a shot (1-7), and committed a bad foul on a Porter three-point attempt.
- Aron Baynes had maybe his least-effective game in green, with zero points and three boards in only nine minutes.
What the Hell Just Happened?
There were no special uniforms this year, and that did not go over well.
Tweet of the Night
Look who made an appearance!
This Kyrie commercial debuted today, with an appearance by Rob Gronkowski (who just happened to be sitting courtside).