The Boston Celtics had some promising moments. Tatum continues to be electric, Rozier was a monster on both ends, and Al Horford continues to be the ultimate glue piece. But as this team continues down its tough December stretch, one theme that has emerged is consistency by youth is not something you can guarantee. Tonight was just another example of it.
The first quarter started off a bit slow for both teams. Markieff Morris hit a quick three, Brown had some strong stretches on the offensive end being aggressive, but by the first tv break, it was only 13-10 WSH with both teams shooting under 35% from the field. Screening was the theme of the quarter of the Wizards as they were able to get some excellent looks for Beal, Porter, and Wall. The Wizards raced out to a 7-point lead which was initially pushed back to one after a pair of three’s by Theis and Rozier, but the Wizards used some precision execution and active defense to get back to back buckets and go into the second up six (30-24). Smart had a really rough quarter. The veteran guard had some uncharacteristic turnovers trying to run the pick and roll, got caught up on a screen that led to a score, and tried a little too hard to force some attempts at the rim. The highlight of the quarter though was Uncle Drew throwing it down all over Gortat:
To begin the second quarter, Stevens handed the keys to Larkin. Stevens then called a quick timeout after the Wizards got a quick basket and brought their lead up to eight (32-24). From then on, the Wizards didn’t score again till about the 8-minute mark and the C’s went on a 12-4 spurt. The run was keyed by stellar defense, some strong shooting from Rozier and Larkin, and some timely plays from Daniel Theis.
Rozier grabs the loose ball and flushes it home! pic.twitter.com/XdreRt1Ie8— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 25, 2017
The game evened up a bit as the starters began to file back in. After Boston momentarily tied the game up, the Wizards were able to push back into the lead (46-43). Tatum back to back scores did briefly put the Celtics up by one (49-50), but the Wizards quickly responded with a tip-in by Oubre, and then another basket by Beal to push their lead back to three by the end of the half.
Key Stats from the First Half
- Boston had 9 turnovers
- Brown and Irving combined from 0/8 from the three
- Beal with 15 first half points
- Irving with 4 first half assists
Wizards came out of the 3rd smoking hot. Porter hit a transition three, then on the next possession got a clean mid-range out of the top of the key created by a huge Gortat screen, and after another three, the Wizards lead was back up to eight (60-52). Things got really fun about midway through the frame as Irving and Wall had a fun little back and forth topped with Tatum nailing a three to push the deficit back down to four before the Wizards called timeout.
The game settled down considerably after the most recent burst, with both teams struggling to find the basket. The Wizards were then able to get back on track a bit first and pushed the lead right back up to eight. Celtics were able to weather the storm a bit keyed by some strong Rozier minutes and after an end of the quarter three from the 3rd year vet, the C's went into the final frame down 4 (76-80).
The final frame started with the battle of the team's second units. Smart set the tone with a big three, and a pretty alley-oop to Theis. Tatum then took over a bit with an awesome fallaway, then a huge transition three to give the Celtics lead. The kid is unreal. (87-85)
Tatum eventually broke the drought, but the Wizards were already rolling at that point, and the Celtics had no answer. Wall picked apart the Celtics defense that consistently miscommunicated its switches. The Celtics team had some promising moments, but consistency continues to elude this team in crucial minutes, and the team was handed another December loss.