The series is tied at 2-2 and the Celtics are lucky to be that close after allowing a 16-0 spurt to open the series in Game 1 and a 39-17 explosion by the Wizards in the first quarter of Game 2. The final score (121-102) was essentially decided by a particularly tilted period in the third quarter when the Wizards went on a 26-0 run.
Despite getting off to a strong start against the Wizards in Game 4 of their playoff series, the Celtics were beaten handily in Washington on Sunday.
Neither team has demonstrated the ability to win on the other's home court this series, which bodes well for the Celtics as they head to TD Garden for Game 5 on Wednesday night. Thomas also committed six turnovers. After a reasonably tight start, the Celtics allowed Washington to score 22 unanswered points, and you simply can not do that in the Playoffs and expect to come out on top. It came in early February when LeBron James hit a fadeaway three-pointer, falling into the Wizards' bench, to send the game to OT.
Thomas, who missed five of his final six shots, was ticked off that he didn't attempt a single free throw despite taking a lot of contact. Not only should that strategy provide the Celtics with points, it likely will slow down the fast-paced tempo the Wizards love to employ.
"It was all our defense", Beal said of the decisive run. "That's all it was". "We realized at halftime we wasn't defending the way we were capable of".
"The way we played defensively in that third quarter is the reason we have this win", Wall told TNT after the game. "Their attack in transition killed us". On top of that we converted, we're one of the best teams in the league at converting off turnovers. The Celtics rely on the defensive mirroring of Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, and Jae Crowder to keep up their intensity, but they were horrendous. But free throws serve as an opportunity for a team to stabilize itself. The margin reached 12, but Wall roared from there with all 14 of his first-half points coming in the second quarter.
Forty-two to twenty in the third quarter good. I'm going to be fine. It's gotta be called differently.
Bradley Beal had his best game of the series, making 11-of-16 field goals for a game-high 29 points. That was on display in Game 4, as they would end up winning the battle in the paint in terms of points, but especially rebounding.
Cavaliers will be well rested before this series begins, while Boston would have had to struggle past Washington to get to this point.
Washington played without reserve forward Kelly Oubre Jr., who was suspended one game for charging and pushing Olynyk in the second quarter of Game 3 following a hard pick set by Olynyk.
That blowout victory in Game 3 will have given the Wizards renewed confidence, and if they can maintain that positive vibe tonight then things could effectively move to a best of three series through Games 5 to 7. Additionally, the Wizards outscored the Celtics in the paint 56-38.
"We feel like we're in control", the point guard said after the game, per Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated. "There is no way little guys should be rebounding over us". "If we just played like we did [today], we would have won that game".
In the third quarter, however, the short-handed Wizards looked as if they had a man advantage. Although Thomas made his first five three-pointers (15 points), he made only one more shot from the field and scored just four more points.