Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
The Cs went to Washington knowing they just need to win one of two to take command of this playoff series. They can still do that. And that’s the main takeaway for Celtics fans after last night’s drubbing in D.C.
In case you missed the game, here’s all you need to know:
The Celtics were never in it after the Wizards broke a 12-all tie by scoring the next 22 points in a row.
Twenty-two. In a row.
We all remember that the Cs trailed by double digits in the first quarters of both Games 1 and 2 in Boston. Their mission last night was to start faster and avoid the large deficit, especially since a big lead is much harder to overcome on the road.
The Celtics failed spectacularly in that mission. After 12 minutes, Washington was ahead, 39-17, and the difference stayed right around that level for the rest of the night. At no time were the Celts in this one.
The severity of the beating was unexpected but the loss itself was entirely predictable. The Wizards were desperate – falling behind 0-3 would’ve meant their doom. They are a good home team and had handled the Cs easily in their two regular-season meetings in the nation’s capital.
Meanwhile, the Celtics were comfortable with their two-game lead, and we know they never play well when they relax. They also couldn’t expect another 53 from Isaiah Thomas.
Another factor: The Wizards have been whining a lot about the Celtics being, in their opinion, overly physical. They vowed to fight back, and clearly the Wiz were playing harder when they ran out to the big lead. But when Kelly Olynyk set a hard pick on Kelly Oubre, there was a bit of an overreaction.
Hey, it wasn’t Olynyk’s fault that none of Oubre’s teammates called out the pick.
In every facet, this was a horrible night for the Celtics. Brad Stevens even got a technical. But it’s just one game. Not a gut-punch loss, easy to forget. We’ve seen it done countless times: one team wins a playoff game in a blowout, and the other team bounces back to win the next time. Good example: 1984 Finals, Lakers won Game 3 by 33, Cs won Game 4 in overtime.
On Sunday, the Celtics’ main challenge will be to figure out how to have a better first quarter. They need another change in the starting five, because Amir Johnson and Gerald Green haven’t gotten it done in this series. After being embarrassed, everyone should be motivated.
MassLive – Isaiah Thomas’ pursuit of excellence described artfully by Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens | 2017 NBA Playoffs: Bradley Beal, Wizards guard, gets foul called vs. Celtics with epic flop (watch) | Kelly Oubre Jr. ejected after charging at Kelly Olynyk and shoving Boston Celtics big man | Isaiah Thomas not sure why Kelly Oubre Jr. charged at Boston Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk: ‘Kelly’s not trying to make anybody mad’ | Washington Wizards beat down Boston Celtics: 10 takeaways from a blowout loss | Boston Celtics star Isaiah Thomas doesn’t want any more trips to the dentist — even if his teeth keep falling out | Isaiah Thomas: Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards don’t like each other
ESPN Boston – Danny Ainge on Isaiah Thomas: ‘He’s been an inspiration’ | Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas misses start of second half due to missing teeth | Isaiah Thomas on Wizards: ‘We don’t like them, they don’t like us’
CSNNE – Celtics, Wizards Combine For Eight Technical Fouls In Feisty Game 3 | Wizards Coach Brooks Blames Olynyk For Oubre Shove | Thomas: It ‘Won’t Happen Again, We’ll Make The Adjustments’ (video) | Stars, Studs And Duds: Isaiah Thomas Nowhere To Be Found | Wizards Offense Wears Isaiah Thomas Down By Picking On Him
On Page 2: Creatures of habit
As silly as it can look to casual observers, do not diminish the importance of all the pre-tip chaos. NBA players crave routines and can be thrown off without them. Games in Boston’s most recent Big Three era couldn’t start until Kevin Garnett was done head-butting the stanchion and pounding his chest at the crowd.
Now a new generation of Celtics are trying to find their own unique ways to get ready for game action.
“It definitely gets you in game mode, gets everybody pumped up and ready to go,” Olynyk said. “It kind of gets you on the same wavelength as everybody else. Everybody knows at that time what everybody else is doing.
“It kinda syncs you guys all together. It’s like basketball Bluetooth.”
My favorite Celtics pregame routines were, in 2008, James Posey hugging the starters before they took the court; Larry Bird wiping the bottoms of his sneakers before tipoff; and, back in the day, John Havlicek closing out the warmups by shooting two layups.
One thing we’d all like to see before the Game 4 is a pregame routine that has some buckets and stops in it. Because the combined first-quarter score for three games is Washington 119, Boston 70. Ugh.
And, finally: Celtics jump into esports
“This is the first step in what promises to be an extraordinary league, bringing together the world’s best gamers and showcasing elite competition on an international stage,” NBA 2K esports league managing director Brendan Donohue said in a statement. “Our teams have expressed tremendous enthusiasm for esports, and we are looking forward to forming something truly unique for basketball and gaming fans around the globe.”
Not being a gamer, I have no idea what this all means or how big it will be. But it’s interesting to see the Celtics as one of the pioneering teams in the venture – especially because Jonas Jerebko has been an owner of an esports team since last summer.
Counter-Strike, if you don’t already know, is a first-person shooter that pits terrorists against counterterrorists in a quest to destroy or save the planet. It’s been one of the most popular video games in the world since its 1999 release, and since 2013, CS:GO has drawn millions of viewers as an esport, with its rapid-fire, five-on-five format. It’s also Jerebko’s favorite pastime, so much so that he bought the Renegades, a team of pro gamers, in July.
That puts the 29-year-old Swede in exclusive company, as the only active NBA player to own an esports franchise.
The Rest of the Links:
Sports Illustrated – All-Time Favorite Play In NBA Playoffs History?