Sunken Battles at .500: A Night When Wizards Underestimated Celtics | Truth About It.net

Sunken Battles at .500: A Night When Wizards Underestimated Celtics

By
Updated: January 27, 2014

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis,

The original draw for last Wednesday’s game between Washington and Boston was the return of Jordan Crawford to D.C. for the first time since he was traded away last March. “Steez” was traded to the Golden State Warriors on January 15, 2013, so the main plot shifted to a battle between former Kentucky Wildcat floor generals, John Wall and Rajon Rondo. But that matchup never materialized with Rondo sitting out on the second night of a back-to-back for Boston. The worn-out storyline once again: Washington’s quest for its first winning record since 2009.

The Wizards were 9.5 point favorites over the depleted Celtics (without Rondo, Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless), and a bump above the .500 mark appeared attainable. Of course, three Boston players would go on to have career performances. Washington slept-walked through a disastrous first half, missed three potential game-winning shots, and lost in overtime. Even John Wall’s laudable accomplishment of a triple-double (Washington’s first since Jordan Crawford … how randomly perfect), was marred by 20 missed shots and six turnovers. #SoWizards indeed!

Jeff Green quickly replaced the scheduled Crawford return with his own homecoming. In front of more than thirty friends and family in attendance, the DMV native and Georgetown product caught fire, drilling ridiculous shots from all over. Green finished with 39 points and a career-high eight 3-pointers.

Rookie Phil Pressey (who?) had a career-high 20 points, highlighted by five 3-pointers. The undrafted guard entered the game shooting 6-for-38 from downtown for his NBA life. The old braided one, Gerald Wallace, made a running, game-deciding shot, and he finished with a career-high nine assists.

The defeat one again exposed the soft underbelly of this Wizards squad, an inability to close out home games against weak competition. The permanent polar vortex swallows hope for the Wizards to gain serious ground at the Verizon Center (10-11 record at home), and this team has picked up most of their key wins on the road (Miami excluded). These are the type of losses that might come back to haunt the Wizards when shuffling for playoff position in April. Making the postseason is an admirable first goal, but the next main one is avoiding a first-round matchup versus the Pacers or the Heat. They need to finish as a 3 seed to 6 seed for this to happen.

The aversion to a winning percentage slightly above .500 is having an affect on the psyche of the fan base. Go read through our excellent #SoWizards Twitter recap of this game, it will give you a pulse of how diehard followers of this team are handling the emotional sting in real time. Fans in attendance go home unhappy, and it is difficult to build any real buzz for this team in the nation’s capitol without an enduring winning streak.

“The Wizards don’t suck anymore” is a tough sell to get average sports fans excited about them in D.C. This site’s founder and managing editor, Kyle Weidie, tapped into my own feelings after Washington squandered another golden opportunity via Twitter: “Dedicating all these hours to covering the Wizards is really so f—— Wizards.”

That sentiment is a perfect way to segue into breaking down video of the late game scenarios…


VIDEOS.

With the game tied, Wall and Nene ran a pick-and-roll that created an open jumper for Nene:

 

Boston had a chance to win the game at end of regulation, but the Wizards forced Jeff Green into a difficult shot. The best part of the video is Coach Randy Wittman stomping his displeasure at the officials for not stopping the clock when he requested:

 

The refs put 1.2 seconds back on the clock that allowed the Wizards another opportunity to win the game. Once again, Nene missed an open look:

 

In the final moments of overtime, the Wizards trailed by one point. After a wild scramble, Wall corralled the ball and found Marcin Gortat at the hoop. Gortat was fouled and had a chance to put Washington ahead by one, but Gortat missed the second free throw:

 

With the game was tied up at 111, Boston ran a play for Wallace, who easily crashed in for a bucket. Jared Sullinger blocked Gortat away, and Wall’s help defense was non-existent:

 

Washington had one final chance at victory. They ran Beal off a high screen with Wall in bounding. Beal was briefly open, but Brandon Bass jumped up at the right moment, making it impossible for Wall to find Beal. The ball ended up with Nene again, who handed off to Wall for a 3-pointer. Kris Humphries wisely switched off from Nene to bother Wall’s 3-point attempt. It fell short and the Wizards officially blew another winnable contest.

 


BONUS VIDEO.

During a break in action, the entire Wizards bench was looking into the crowd. A Celtics fan was being carried by Verizon Center security. This episode amused members of the Wizards bench, with Kevin Seraphin throwing playful body blows towards Trevor Booker. (The Washington Post‘s Dan Steinberg covered this on his Sports Bog.)


QUOTES.

Before the game, I asked Boston coach Brad Stevens about his thoughts on the Wizards:

“I think that this this team when you combine their length and athleticism, Wall’s progress, I think that they are really, really good… We think they are as smooth as an offense as we have played in awhile. They really, really have things going in a good spot. Coach Wittman is doing a great job with this group. I am happy for him. They have went through some tough times the last few years. One of my former players was here (Shelvin Mack). They had a lot of tough losses. For them to doing as well  as they can, I am really happy for him. They are hard to play against.”

After the game, I asked Stevens about his strategy on stopping Wall:

“I am the worst person ever to ask about that because I never know who has a triple-double after the game. It seems like it has happened to us a couple of times. He (Wall) is such a good player. When he gets that jump shot going, in the games that he makes it consistently, he’s almost unstoppable to guard. And in transition he’s as good as they come. There are a handful of guards in this league that can make a living and make the offense flow from their pocket passing. And John Wall makes everybody better because he gets that ball in small spaces quickly and fluidly and consistently.”

Pressey’s big night was instrumental in Boston’s improbable win. I asked the former Missouri guard about how he was able to knock down so many 3-pointers:

“I feel like it a lot different when you are out there a little longer. You get more comfortable on the court and I was just happy that those shots went down.”

What it was like for Pressey to face against one of the NBA’s top guards in Wall:

“I played against him (Wall) when we were younger going through the AAU circuit. We played against each other. I don’t really look at it  as, ‘Oh, it is John Wall.’ I look at it like he is my competitor so I am going against him. I stopped going, ‘Oh, it is John Wall” in 9th or 10th grade. Now I am going against him, competing, trying to get a win.”

I asked Jared Sullinger about Wallace’s game-winning shot:

“Honestly, it was a set play to use Jeff as a decoy as he was running down to the free throw line to pop out. We wanted Gerald to drive with his right hand. As he was driving with his right hand, it ducked Gortat in, who was guarding me, and it gave him an easy lay up. It was just run beautifully.”

Humprhies—who hilariously kept calling Wallace ‘Gerry’—shook his head and curtly responded when I asked him if he thought one of Nene’s two game-winning attempts were going in: “No, absolutely not.”

Wallace was unsure what was going to happen on that final drive:

“I knew that I was going to get to the rim. I knew that I was going to get a shot off, but I didn’t know what was going to happen after that.”


PICTURES.

{all images via Adam McGinnis, @AdamMcGinnis}

During the Boston’s fan ejection, Booker pretended to hold back his teammates from doing anything.

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, Trevor Booker, Ejection, Fan, Boston

Green did his entire post-game interview with a Baltimore Bullets hat on backwards. (DC Sports Bog covered this angle as well.)

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, Jeff Green, Bullets, Bullets Hat

Rondo did not play, but he warmed up on the court before the game. Rondo caught me innocently taking his photo from afar and he objected. After the game, Rondo was arguing with a reporter over him wanting to ask Avery Bradley about his ankle injury. Rondo put on this funky hat and was playing cards with a Celtics employee while the media conducted their interviews. Rondo is a different cat. (Or an a–hole according to Kobe, and Rondo himself)

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Hat, Bullets, Fuzzy, Avery Bradley

Humphries wanted the Boston TV crew to film his shoes so I obliged as well.

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, Kris Humphries, Shoes

Washington assistant coach Ryan Saunders and Gortat were spinning basketballs. Saunders had some mad Globetrotter skills.

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, Marcin Gortat, Ryan Saunders,

Former Bullet and recent NBA Hall of Fame Honoree, Bernard King, attended the game and sat with Ted Leonsis in his owner’s box. It was neat seeing “The Bernie and Ernie Show” hanging out together, too.

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, Ernie Grunfeld, Bernard King, Ernie, Bernie, Ernie, Bernie and Ernie Show

MORE PICTURES.

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, John Wall

 

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, Wizards Fans

 

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, Gerald Wallace

 

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, Trevor Booker, Chris Singleton

 

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, Elvin Hayes, Washington Bullets

 

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, Ejected, Fans

 

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, Eric Maynor, Bradley Beal, Maynor Time

 

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, Fans, Young, Kids, Wiz Kids,

 

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, Rajon Rondo

 

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, Otto Porter, Garrett Temple

 

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, John Wall, Kevin Seraphin

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, Hats

 

Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Truth About It, Adam McGinnis, John Wall, Bradley Beal

 


You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply