Isaiah Thomas and John Wall staged a head-to-head duel in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup. While Wall seemed to fade towards the end of the game, Thomas had enough left in the tank to lead the Celtics to a commanding 2-0 series lead in an overtime victory.
Thomas finished with 53 points, including 20 in the fourth quarter and nine more in overtime. He shot 18 of 33 from the field, 5 of 12 from behind the arc and 12 of 13 at the free throw line. Every single time Boston needed a bucket, Thomas was there to provide one.
Making Thomas’s night even more special was that he did it on his sister Chyna’s birthday. A fitting present to honor her memory for Thomas and his family.
Wall had a big night for Washington with 40 points of his own and 13 assists, but appeared to run out of gas late. He scored just five points in the fourth quarter and overtime, as the Celtics threw a multitude of defenders at him from Avery Bradley to Marcus Smart to Jaylen Brown to Terry Rozier. All did an excellent job of keeping Wall in front of them and preventing him from making plays.
Boston got solid contributions from Al Horford with 15 points and 12 rebounds, as well as 14 points apiece from Bradley and Jae Crowder. In addition, the Celtics bench trio of Rozier, Smart and Kelly Olynyk all made plays. Smart was especially effective, as he came up with several of those “Marcus Smart plays” that Boston fans have come to know and love.
After a hot start that saw the Wizards score 42 points on 62.5 percent shooting, Washington’s offense cooled significantly as the game went along. Boston did a much better job staying attached to the bodies of the Wizards and held them to 46 percent for the game.
There were two stretches that really helped change the game for Boston. The first was when they brought in Brown, whose energy gave the team a lift. The second was a long period where Brad Stevens played a lineup that resembled his Butler teams, with Horford surrounded by four guards in Thomas, Bradley, Smart and Rozier. That group gave Washington fits on defense and allowed the Celtics to erase a double-digit deficit.
The game was very chippy, almost from the start. After Markieff Morris landed on Horford’s foot in Game 1, the two exchanged words before the opening tip. Morris then threw Horford to the floor early on. That was the first of many such exchanges between the two teams, who clearly don’t care for each other. Thomas went after Morris several times, including barking at him all the way to bench after Thomas drew Morris’ sixth foul in overtime to end Morris’s night.
The series now moves to Washington for Games 3 and 4, where the Wizards will look to dig themselves out of a big hole.