The Reaction: What Happened To The Wizards In Boston?
Below is my rapid reaction to last night’s loss against the Celtics that also appeared on ESPN.com’s NBA Daily Dime run-down, followed by two additional sections posted just to TAI. But first, a John Wall lob to Jan Vesely GIF…
Wizards 76 at Celtics 88.
MVP: Rajon Rondo treated the Wizards like orange cones from the tip, his 11 assists certainly the reason why Boston had 24 total assists on 34 field goals. Per usual, Rondo turned a blind eye toward offense for most of the night, until less than six minutes left in the game and Washington hanging around within 11 points. A couple of teardrops did the trick, sending the Wizards home drying their eyes from a 4-0 season sweep at the hands of the Celtics.
X-Factor: With both Ray Allen and Mickael Pietrus out, Rondo and Kevin Garnett must’ve told fill-in Avery Bradley that he was going to be treated just the same. Bradley scored 13 points in the game’s first five minutes as Boston jumped out to a 17-4 lead. Four of his buckets came from Rondo’s assists, two came from Garnett passing out the post on Bradley’s cuts to the hoop; he finished the night with a career-high 23.
That was … a Sunday snoozer: Boston got off to a ridiculously mechanical start against the fragile, woebegone Wizards, playing without new center Nene. Washington, thanks to sluggish Celtics offense, got within eight points in the third quarter, but Paul Pierce (21 points) put the little’uns to bed, giving the clovers a much-needed home win coming off a 4-4 eight-game road trip.
LVP: It’s hard to nominate any one Wizard as the least valuable player of the game. Most everyone contributed to their capabilities, understandable mistakes notwithstanding, and no one had a terrible game (but no Wizard exactly had a good game, either). The bigger issue is Washington needs Nene on the floor in order to have chance of being competitive against good teams like Boston. The Wizards have little in the department of shot creators (Wall and Crawford barely count as half a creator each), and Nene’s ability to take up space and pass out of the post is now almost a prerequisite for any type of successful offense. Thus, the Wizards needed Jordan Crawford to shoot to live, and they died because of it. But it wasn’t Crawford’s 20 points on 8-for-18 shooting that gets him the LVP, it was his defense against Avery Bradley in the early going (although, J.C. had minimal help from his bigs, especially Kevin Seraphin). After the game, via @MrMichaelLee, Randy Wittman had this to say about his team’s defense against Bradley: “I could have scored those layups. He ought to send us a postcard of thank-yous.”
Game-Deciding Moment: Midway through the third quarter, Crawford hit one of his crazy shots to pull the Wizards within eight points at 55-47. Then Boston ran off 10 straight points, thanks to six from Paul Pierce. But Washington kept fighting. A scramble for the ball resulted in a John Wall transition layup, capping Washington’s answer of six straight points; they were still within 65-53. But with a chance to cut it to 10 points, Wall rushed an early shot-clock jumper without considering a pass. It was not the shot for him to take, and Pierce answered on the other end with a 2-pointer. About 90 seconds later, Trevor Booker missed an ill-advised jumper on a one-pass possession; Brandon Bass answered with a bucket for Boston. The Wizards had intentions of making it a game, but some guys just couldn’t help trying to be the hero.