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Showing some fight: 10 Takeaways from Celtics-Wizards

Boston played their second double-overtime contest in 10 days, but fought until the end

Boston Celtics v Washington Wizards Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

1. It wasn’t the result the Boston Celtics wanted, as they fell in double-overtime to the Washington Wizards. The loss dropped Boston to 2-4 on the young season, which is their worst start in eight years. In all, the Celtics have already played five overtime periods in six games. You really can’t blame them if they’re a little tired.

Yet, tired legs didn’t show up. At least in the effort category they didn’t. And that’s what we really wanted to see from this group. Boston showed some fight. They were physical on defense, and the execution was better, if still leaving plenty to work on.

As Jaylen Brown and Josh Richardson both said postgame, “We’re close. It’s not time to panic.” Despite the loss, it’s starting to feel that way. The breakthrough feels like it is coming.

2. Al Horford played 41 minutes, which was the first time he’s topped 40 minutes in a game since Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018. And they were important minutes too, as Horford showed up big on both ends. Boston is running a lot of offense through Horford. This is a beautiful find to Jaylen Brown on the backdoor cut:

Because Horford has a size advantage over a lot of the guys who defend him, he can pick out cutters fairly easily. That’s what happens here, as Horford hits Romeo Langford on the cut:

One last one, because it’s a good example of working in tight quarters. This pass has to be in the right place at the right time or Josh Richardson won’t get the shot off. Horford delivers:

3. Al Horford has also been Boston’s best defender this season. He may get blown by on occasion, but his rim protection has generally been excellent. In this game, Horford blocked six shots. This was one of the best ones. Horford recognizes Bradley Beal has beaten Dennis Schroder and times it perfectly to take away a bucket:

4. Jaylen Brown was on the good side of his “mind-boggling” play in this one. He was the Celtics most consistent scoring threat and he did most of it by getting to the rim. This first clip is a fun set. It’s a “ghost screen” by Romeo Langford. He comes into the play enough to make Kentavious Caldwell-Pope set a base like he’s getting screened. At the same time, Aaron Holiday realizes Langford isn’t going to screen and he stays with Langford. That opens up the lane for Brown to get up high:

At the end of the first half, Brown went to the Eurostep, which has become a weapon for him. Brown put Kyle Kuzma in the blender here:

It was so good that Kuzma tweeted this after the game:

This play from the second half was great. On occasion, Brown will catch and stop everything to survey the defense. Not here. He knows he has the mismatch with Davis Bertans and immediately goes off the catch:

5. Sometimes the phrase “the elephant in the room” isn’t adequate enough to describe an awkward or bad situation. Whatever you want to call it, the Celtics three-point shooting was horrendous in this game. Horrifying, if you want to Halloween-theme it.

Boston finished 2-of-26 from behind the arc. Many of those attempts were open looks too. If the Celtics had simply had a bad shooting night vs a terrible one, they would have won. It was sort of like the Knicks double-overtime loss in the opener all over again.

All told, Boston’s main three-point shooters aren’t getting it done early in the season. Hopefully, it’s just a slump they’re getting out of the way now.

6. We’re dropping in this clip for two reasons. First, this was the Celtics first three-point make of the game. And it came in the fourth quarter. Second, it’s good to see Payton Pritchard get one to fall:

It’s been a frustrating start to the season for the second-year point guard. The guess here is that the mask is bothering Pritchard, because he’s usually a very reliable shooter.

7. Josh Richardson put together a strong game. He essentially played the Marcus Smart role late, as he became the primary defender on Bradley Beal. Richardson also added 18 points off the bench. But it was defense like this steal that kept him in the game:

8. Overall, Boston did a good job on Bradley Beal late in the game. Beal made some plays, because he’s one of the best scorers in the game. But Josh Richardson and Jaylen Brown made life difficult on him to even get touches. This was especially true late in the fourth quarter. It’s good to see that Boston can lock on to a star and take him out of the offense when necessary.

9. He showed up earlier, but it was good to see Romeo Langford back. Langford will make most of his impact on defense or with athletic plays on offense. But this kind of heads-up extra pass will keep Langford in the lineup:

10. The Celtics now head home to Boston to play the Chicago Bulls. Chicago is one of four Eastern Conference teams that have raced out to a 5-1 start. It’s not exactly a “must win” for the Celtics, but six of their next nine games are on the road. And Boston is already 0-2 at home. So, if you want to call it a “must win”, you won’t get much argument here. No matter what, this is a great chance to get things moving in a positive direction for the Celtics.

Here’s to hoping you all have a safe and happy Halloween that is filled with only treats and not tricks!