Bradley Beal’s hamstring played an impact in the early going
Beal led the entire NBA in scoring this season at 31.3 points per game. However, he’s been dealing with a nagging hamstring impingement the past fortnight, which reared its ugly head in the maiden period. The Celtics assigned Jayson Tatum to defend Beal, and this appeared to be the right move, as Tatum’s length disrupted the Wizards star on the perimeter.
But it’s fair to say that Beal’s hamstring is what most inhibited him from a prolific first quarter. A mere one of his opening four field-goal attempts found the bottom of the net. Beal’s first converted shot attempt — a fastbreak slam in the opening quarter — ended with him limping to the Wizards bench as the Celtics called for time. Beal admittedly ended the first half on a high note with 11 points in frame number two, though he is clearly playing through pain. Kudos to Beal for suiting up for his team despite being far from 100%.
Washington’s reserves contributed, Boston’s didn’t
With proven veterans in Ish Smith, Daniel Gafford, and Davis Bertans, Washington owns a clear-cut advantage against Boston — bench depth. The starters for Washington struggled to put up points, and it was the second-stringers of the Wizards who kept the away team in the game. Smith and Gafford combined for 17 first-half points and relentlessly muscled their way to the front of the rim for point-blank shots.
The Celtics, conversely, saw their back-ups produce little on the scoring column. With five at the half, Tristan Thompson accounted for all of Boston’s points from the reserves. Thompson did his job, working for extra possessions and converting on put-backs. Although Semi Ojeleye, Payton Pritchard, and Aaron Nesmith all accumulated 0-for’s, something which cannot happen against potential first-round competition like the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. At least not if the Celtics want a puncher’s chance at an upset.