The Boston Celtics have a knack to play their best basketball when their backs are on the wall. But without Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Daniel Theis, and Marcus Smart tonight was supposed to be a rough loss that which we can excuse for being short-handed. Instead, the Celtics battled like hell, they got up by 20, lost it, and fought all toe to tow with the Wizards with two extra quarter of basketball. Usually a team that’s second place in the conference doesn’t get to have moral victories, but tonights performance was the very definition of one.
Like we all probably expected, the game started with a Morris turnover to Baynes on a pick and roll attempt. What we didn't expect was the Celtics from that point on starting the game 8/11 from the field, including 3/3 from three and absolutely pouncing on the “Everybody Eats” Wizards with a 19-6 lead. Tatum came out firing with fadeaway jumpers, sweet layups, and this:
Boston’s first substitutions were Semi OJeleye and Abdel Nader for Jayson Tatum and Gursechon Yabusele. It’s hard to find an identity when virtually your entire core is out for a night, but the Celtics decided very quickly that they were going to stay big no matter, playing Baynes for a longer stint than usual to captain the defense. The Celtics got the lead as high as 15, but the Wizards second unit led by Kelly Oubre and Ian Mahinmi chipped the lead to 7 as the young Celtics started to look more like what we expected coming into the game. The run was short-lived, however, a three by Nader, putback by Monroe, Morris Ft’s, and some nifty Larkin finishes suddenly had the Celtics back up by 14 to end the quarter. The star of the first was Marcus Morris. He still got his shots up (3/6 from the field), but he was physical defensively and picked his spots while not hijacking the offense for his own .Another key stat of the quarter? the Celtics went owned the boards holding a 17-6 rebounding edge for the Celtics including 7 offensive rebounds. Yes, the Boston Celtics had more offensive rebounds in the first quarter than the Wizards had overall rebounds.
The second quarter looked as shocking as the first, the Wizards continued to look like they wanted to be in bed watching season two of Jessica Jones. The Celtics got their lead up to 20 by halfway through the frame. Tatum had a couple of impressive finishes, Monroe feasted on all offensive rebounds, and the Celtics even got a little crazy and threw in some zone defense to bait the Wizards into settling for difficult looks. In true Celtics fashion however, the team gave up a 10-0 run, and went into the half with a mere 7-point lead after maintaining a large double-digit lead for most of the quarter. The run was led by Markieff Morris who scored 9 of his first 11 first half points in the final three minutes of the quarter.
First half numbers:
A newly engaged Wizards team came out with the aggression that they probably should have began the game with. Beal was the main culprit, terrorizing Celtics bigs with nifty stepback jumpers. On the Celtics side, Tatum, Morris, and Rozier kept things afloat with timely baskets. Yabusele even had himself a pretty finish.
The Beal assault did not stop though, and the Celtics quickly found themselves nursing a two-point lead (72-70) with about 5 minutes left in the quarter. Two minutes later, a Satoransky layup gave the Wizards their first lead (77-76) with a screaming Stevens calling timeout and berating his team over a missed defensive assignment. The game got sloppy form there, the Celtics went up to 13 turnovers, and after a 16-point Beal quarter the Wizards went into the final frame up 81-80.
The Celtics punched first with a Rozier three, followed by Shane Larkin steal and layup to give the C’s a 4 point lead (85-81). With Beal out, the Celtics had a bit more luck stopping the likes of Ramon Sessions, but a lack of scoring themselves kept them from extending lead to anything more than two after the a quarter of the 4th. A key sequence happened in at about 8:17 in the fourth with the Celtics facing an inbound play from under the basket with 1.7 seconds left on the shot clock, C’s ran a beautiful set that left Nader wide open at the top of the key where he drained a three and put the Celtics up 5 (90-85). The Wizards kept coming though. A second-chance three by Beal made is a three-point game (98-95), But Morris immediately hit a well-contested mid-range shot to push it back up to five (100-95). A quick WSH bucket cut it back the lead back to 3. After each team traded misses, Beal got the angle on a PnR and hit another tough layup to put the WSH down by one with 50.8 seconds left (100-99).
Coming out of the timeout, Stevens drew up another beauty that had Monroe do a double-DHO into Tatum who attacked the rim and kicked it out to Morris in the corner who nailed the back-breaking three pointer with 43 seconds left giving Boston a four point lead(103-99). A quick Beal layup cut the lead to two (103-101). Tatum then went to the line and made 1 of 2, giving Boston a three point lead (104-101). Beal then got down the court and scored another quick layup to bring WSH down by one (104-103). On the inbounds, things got dicey, Rozier got the ball, but tripped as Beal hit it out, giving the Celtics the basketball on a side out with 13.3 left and only one timeout. The Celtics immediately had to call timeout because they were unable to get the ball in, but the timeout helped them advance the ball. On the inbounds, Larkin got the ball and hit both his free throws to put the Celtics up 3 with 12/5 seconds left (106-103). On the Wizards inbound, Beal got a great look on a three that gracefully went in and out, but on the rebound the refs had to review whether it was out on Tatum which they confirmed. With 5 seconds left, Porter got a drive to the hoop and instead of defending the corner three Morris ran to defend the layup leaving Meeks wide open for the go-ahead three and off to overtime we went.
Overtime started with two Celtics mid-range bricks by Morris and Tatum respectively, a Porter 3, and two Markieff Morris free throws to gave the Wizards a three-point lead (111-108). A Morris layup and foul put the Celtics back down by one, but the Wizards immediately got down the court with a hard Satoransky push in which he drew a shooting foul and hit both his free throws pushing the lead back up three (113-110). Rozier promptly but Satoransky on skates and nailed a three to tie the game. The teams trade misses again before a Porter drive with about 20 seconds left got him to the line where he hit both, giving the Wizards a two point lead (115-113). On the inbound, Tatum threw a dangerous pass that was picked off by Satoransky. On the play, the Celtics never got a chance to foul because the Scott Brooks called a timeout which put the Wizards in a position where they only had about 2 seconds to get the ball past halfcourt. The Wizards, knowing this, tried to throw a long pass but when that failed they threw a cross court pass to Beal who missed it and fell out of bounds, Celtics ball. On the ensuing possession, the Celtics just got it in to Rozier, who just got it to Tatum in which Porter almost stole it. With a clear path to the basket, Tatum got into the lane and hit the layup while Gortat fouled him and he was heading to the line with a chance to win the game.
Unfortunately, the rookie missed the free throw, sending the game into another overtime.
TATUM TIES IT TO SEND IT TO DOUBLE OT pic.twitter.com/bl5DAXainv— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 15, 2018
Overtime Round 2
The double OT looked like slugfest with the difference being two Wizard three’s that put the Wizards up 5. Nader hit a layup, Beal answered with an and-1, C’s missed, Beal missed, and a Rozier transition three got the C’s down by 1 (125-124). on the next Wizards possession, Beal missed again, but Celtics were unable to respond with the game-winning basket after Tatum was unable to cash in on a go-ahead win.
C’s lose in a nail-biter, but an encouraging one at that.
The Celtics will now embark on a two-game road trip starting with Orlando on Friday and the red-hot Pelicans on Sunday. Kyrie is expected to make the trip and Horford should be good on Friday so help is on the way.