Well, it didn't take long for that one to get out of hand...
Our beloved Celtics have consistently struggled to open games with a healthy combination of fluidity and control, and this evening's matchup in the nation's capital was no different. Less than five minutes into tonight's game, the unsystematic C's had already committed six turnovers, propelling Washington's transition game from the get-go and allowing the enemy to jump off to a 15-2 start.
Not only did the new-look Celtics appear unfamiliar with one another, they didn't seem to be ready to get rushed by the opposition. They may have paid attention to Brad Stevens' gameplan and studied the scouting report, but they weren't ready for war. Wheaties were not served in the visitor's locker room prior to tip-off, that much I can guarantee.
The surging Wizards, on the other hand, didn't look nearly as lost. In fact, tonight's contest was a perfect way to visualize the difference between a rebuilding squad and a team that is ready to make a deep playoff run. Randy Wittman's club came out with a lot of bounce in their step, which transferred into some crisp, decisive ball movement that screamed "this is chess, not checkers!" in the voice of Detective Alonzo Harris.
Maintaining their scrap in the later stages of the opening quarter, the Wizards started having a little fun as John Wall busted out the hot sauce and gave Olynyk the shake-n-bake business after a mirror image of his incredible 360 layup from Christmas day.
The Celtics scored just 12 points in the first quarter and found themselves down by 18 heading into the second frame. Boston held an accumulative five-point advantage throughout the final three quarters but tonight's brutal start would be far too much to overcome as coach Stevens and the gang have now lost 10 of 12 first quarters on the road this season.
No sense of urgency, no continuity, no ball control... no W.
As Brad Stevens said in the postgame presser, "They weren't letting us back into this one. You could see it. You could feel it." Once pressure was applied to the throttle, it was put on cruise control the rest of the way. The Celtics put together an 11-0 run [too] late in the game and even scored 21 points on the break, but without trying to further beat on the pessimistic side of things, I'd chalk that up as more fool's gold than anything. Those things happened after the Wizards had already decided their dinner plans from the sidelines.
Jeff Green put together another aggressive individual homecoming affair with a game-high 23 points, but he didn't get a whole lot of help, especially within the starting unit. Boston's starting five shot a combined 14-38 (36.8%) to go along with 10 turnovers and a rough follow-up from rookie Marcus Smart, who scored 23 of his own last time he faced Washington but received a healthy "welcome to the NBA" notion from John Wall tonight.
Coach Stevens dug into his bench yet again, going 11-deep for the game, something I personally think needs to be corrected/shortened (how do you expect a unit to establish rhythm when it consistently rotates 11 bodies?). Kelly Olynyk provided a much-needed spark off the bench, tallying 15 points and eight boards as one of three Celtics reserves to reach double-figures (Evan Turner-11, Jae Crowder-10). There wasn't a whole lot that made me smile about tonight's game, but Sunshine sure is crafty when he decides to do something with that ball.
Leading the way for Washington was a pair of familiar faces, as Kris Humphries' 18-point, nine-rebound performance complemented The Truth's 17 to help stick the dagger into our little green hearts.
That Kentucky/Louisville game was fun to watch, though, huh? Am I right? When is the lottery again? May what?
The Celtics will be back in action at the Garden on New Year's Eve in a 1:00 pm matinee against the Sacramento Kings.