Despite an awful first half fueled by an intense and handsy Wizards effort, the Celtics beat the Wizards 133-129.
Boston started slow, missing bad shots and letting the Wizards walk into easy ones.
The Celtics had only hit two threes out of 12 attempts in the first quarter, until this sweet Payton Pritchard buzzer-beater. The Wizards led at the first break, 35-31. Jordan Poole had 11 in the first, proving that he can – in fact – play basketball. You might not have known that after his last few games. Here’s that Pritchard heave for your viewing pleasure:
In the second quarter, the Wizards kept up their pace. They were without starting center Marvin Bagley and trade deadline acquisition Richaun Holmes. No centers suited up for Washington, and forward Kyle Kuzma had to start at the five. Their strategy was to run and hit threes, and it paid off early.
Jayson Tatum, Kristaps Porzingis, and Jaylen Brown saved their own stat lines to close the second quarter, combining for 46 points in the first half. The Wizards led 71-64 at the midway point. Tatum finished with 34 points, tying Porzingis for the most in the game, plus 10 rebounds and 8 assists.
Sometimes, thinking things will be easy makes them hard. That’s what you get with this Celtics team. They’re going to be competitive against the deserving opponents, and they’re going to let the undeserving teams be competitive. It loses them games, but we can’t really complain about it because they’re still good enough to be the best team in the league, by far. Instead, we’ll all just pull our hair out watching below-average players have career games against Boston every night.
Much like the halftime entertainment – who painted a portrait of Bill Russell – the Celtics turned it upside down halfway through so we could see the bigger picture.
It wasn’t without warts, bad misses, or horrible turnovers, but the Celtics went on a run in the third quarter thanks to some perfect Porzingis play. He was 12-12 from the free throw line with a thirty-point double-double through three quarters. Porzingis added 11 rebounds and a block to his 34 points.
Boston led 100-87 after three, and Pritchard drilled YET ANOTHER buzzer-beater to close the quarter. It didn’t count though, because I guess numbers are more important than fun in this league.
Here’s that heave as well, because Pritchard was awesome tonight.
The Celtics outscored the Wizards 36-16 in the third.
Boston was without their trade deadline additions, Jaden Springer and Xavier Tillman. They stayed on the bench in street clothes, awaiting their debuts. Springer might be ready to go on Sunday against the Miami Heat, but Tillman will likely need some more time to get over a knee injury.
It was all Pritchard to start the fourth. He was incredibly dynamic getting into the lane and pulling up. His contributions were welcome, because the rest of the team was pretty sloppy on the offensive end during that stretch. He finished with 11 very key points.
Jrue Holiday hit some clutch threes that essentially won the game for Boston. He was 2-2 from three with 20 points in the game.
It was a good comeback from a messy first half, but the Celtics should really learn how to avoid ever trailing against bad teams without anyone over 6’8”. That’s how you get rest for your best players as the season comes to a close.
After I wrote that, the Wizards went on a big run and brought the score to a four-point Boston lead. Because of course they did.