Boston (17-10): 130– Washington (11-17): 125
Kyrie Irving: 38 PTS 3 REB 7 AST 1 STL
Marcus Morris: 27 PTS 9 REB 2 AST
Marcus Smart: 18 PTS 5 REB 3 AST 3 STL
John Wall: 34 PTS 13 REB 2 AST 2 STL 1 BLK
Bradley Beal: 22 PTS 7 REB 4 AST
Jeff Green: 22 PTS 10 REB 2 AST 1 STL/BLK
Undermanned again, the Celtics went into Washington last night and squeaked out of there with an overtime victory. Hayward, Horford, Yabusele, and then Jaylen Brown were all out with various illnesses/injuries. A good sign, was the return of Kyrie Irving and Aron Baynes. Kyrie looked fine out there, while Baynes had a minute restriction coming off of that ankle injury.
The theme of this one from the get go was that it was going to be a shootout. Kyrie and John Wall went back and forth in what was an exciting game all the way up to the final buzzer. The two leading scorers in the game dueled in the fourth quarter/OT scoring 16 and 19 points respectively. The clutch shots were all over the place and it was a whirlwind. The Celtics did not have an answer for Wall and he repeatedly took advantage late as he was going to the basket at will. All of his makes in the 4th/OT were layups or dunks and for the Celtics, that can’t happen. The Wizards rank 27th in the NBA in 3-point percentage (32.7%) and Wall shoots 31%, they clearly want to go to the basket and it was the Celtic’s fault for letting this happen over and over.
Another problem for the Celtics was the fastbreak scoring from Washington as they outscored the Celtics 19-4. There was a focus by the Wizards to get to the basket and they did, especially in crunch time. Turnovers late were also an issue as they let the Wizards back into the game at the beginning of the fourth as they had 3 quick turnovers. Lulls like this have hurt them this season and while they did end up winning the game, it still needs to be worked on.
Tatum once again provided a steady scoring option as he provided 12 points and 12 boards. His game continues to look more polished night in and night out. He was too reliant on the mid-range jumper early on, but it now seems like he’s picking his spots and it’s improved his game. One play that stood out to me was his in-n-out, into a crossover, into a slam.
Find me literally any 20 year-old with game like this. His ceiling is still so high and watching him develop in his second season has been a ton of fun.
In the first half the Celtics struggled shooting as they went a mere 19-50 (38%) in the first half. The Wizards, led by great halves from Brad Beal (14 points) and old friend turned Celtic killer Jeff Green (12 points 5 rebounds), were feeling it early on. When the Celtics aren’t hitting threes this offense is tough to watch and their 4-20 (20%) performance from downtown in the first half showed it. As frustrating as it is in the moment, they’ve proved in the Stevens Era that if they aren’t falling, they’ll just keep firing until they do. The Wizards used this to their advantage and opened up a 56-46 cushion at the half.
The game was blown wide open in the second half as the Celtics dropped 38 points on the Wizards in the third. Usually the Celtics’s Achilles heel, offensive rebounding put them over the top, especially down the stretch. The contributions of Robert Williams, Daniel Theis, and Aron Baynes on the glass were admirable. Hauling in a combined 17 rebounds (8 offensive) between the 3 of them they took advantage of a poor rebounding team in the Wizards. Marcus Morris even chipped in with 3 ORebs of his own, and a couple of big ones late.
Speaking of Marcus Morris, when is this man going to be mentioned in the MVP conversation???? You go 100% from the field for the first 2 months of the season and nobody says a peep about you. Disrespectful is one word to describe it, but I’d be more apt to call it absolutely deplorable. All jokes aside, he was phenomenal again last night scoring 27 points (12 in the fourth) as he continues to be money from anywhere on the court. Brad made it an effort to get him the ball in the post as they consistently had action where they would post him up and then clear out. His turnaround jumper in the lane has been a staple for him over his career and Brad gave him the opportunity to go to it over and over again.
While Mook brought us into overtime with his play in the fourth, Kyrie took the reigns from there. Scoring 12 of the Celtics 17 in the frame, he didn’t let his miss at the end of regulation phase him. They needed his efforts as John wall was on another level driving to the bucket. After a Markieff Morris put back to put the Wizards up 123-122 Kyrie had finally had enough. With minimal time left on the shotclock, Kyrie ripped through, pulled up with no air space whatsoever from the left wing, and buried it in John Wall’s grill to put the Celtics up 2. After an answer on the other end from Wall, Kyrie saved his best act for last. He dribbled up and for a split second Wall eased off, so Kyrie pulled up from 31 feet and drained it for the lead at 128-125. 2 free throws later from Irving (and an MVP chant from the Washington crowd) the Celtics closed it out and got themselves are hard fought victory.
Player of the Game: Kyrie Irving
After sitting out Monday’s game with a shoulder injury it is appear that Kyrie is just fine. He had a subpar shooting night, only going 12-28 from the field but he made up for it with his work down the stretch. Those two daggers that he hit to push the Celtics to the top were such difficult shots and he made them look so easy. While the second one (from the logo) was more impressive based on the distance, I can’t get over the first one. Literally no airspace, low clock, and Wall absolutely knew he was shooting it and Kyrie hits it (nothing but net to be exact). It’s so mesmerizing and on a nightly basis he continues to show he’s the leader of this team and they go when he does.
The Celtics return home Friday night 12/14 as they take on the Atlanta Hawks (6-21) at 7:00 PM ET.