D.C. Council 75: Wizards 118 vs Celtics 92: A Washington Playoff Baby Born in Chinatown | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

D.C. Council 75: Wizards 118 vs Celtics 92: A Washington Playoff Baby Born in Chinatown

Updated: April 2, 2014

Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council: setting the scene, recapping key points, providing the analysis, evaluating players, and catching anything that you may have missed from the Washington Wizards. Game No. 75: Wizards vs Celtics, featuring Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20) and Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) from the Verizon Center, Chinatown.
Stats probably via the normal places, Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com/stats.

Washington Wizards 118 vs Boston Celtics 92
[box score]


[via instagram.com/truthaboutit]

[via instagram.com/truthaboutit]

“We thinking like we won the championship
when it was just a simple win.”



Stat(s) of the Game.

The Celtics did a good job of making an OK Wizards team look better.

That’s for sure. But a win is a win and a playoff team is a playoff team. And on Wednesday night, the Washington Wizards playoff team shared the ball to the tune of 29 assists, which was just the tenth time out of 75 games that they tallied that amount or more assists.

But the Wizards also turned the ball over 21 times, second-most on the season. Yes, there were small, semi-prerequisite (for the Wizards) bouts with sloppiness and ‘I want my shot and I want it now!’

But the Wizards were able to maintain themselves, they made 18 free throws (the 24th time that mark or more was accomplished this season), and won the game by dominating the paint with 50 points. Boston was also held to just 29 total rebounds, a season-low for Washington opponents.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)


DC Council Key Legislature
The Wizards’ victory over the Celtics was as sweet as they come, because the end result was their first playoff appearance since the Big 3 days of Antawn Jamison, Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler. But the game itself was a stinker of epic proportions. The Wizards led by double-figures just four minutes into the contest, kept it around 10 most of the first half, pushed it to 20 points on a Trevor Ariza layup late in the third quarter, and kept it at 20 or more for the remainder of the game.

Not only were these not your father’s Boston Celtics, these weren’t even the Celtics that you and your short-term memory could recollect. Instead, this was a group led by a former All-Star recovering from an ACL injury in Rajon Rondo, an above-average player who had an off-night in Jeff Green (3-for-13 from the field, 0-for-6 from the 3-point line, and just 13 points), and a mix of veteran and young players simply trying (and failing on this particular night) to play hard for the remainder of the season.

Late in the second quarter, the Celtics lineup of Jerryd Bayless, Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass, and Jeff Green were able to put together consistent play on both ends of the floor, and at one point they even cut Washington’s lead to seven points. And when Trevor Ariza’s fast-break dunk gave the Wizards a 14-point lead and the momentum with just 4.9 seconds left in the first half, the Celtics countered with a 3-pointer by Sullinger at the buzzer to cut the lead to 57-46.

But in the third quarter, Ariza (whom Boston Coach Brad Stevens praised as one of the Wizards’ unsung heroes before the game) and Bradley Beal effectively shut down any sliver of hope the Celtics had about coming back. Beal scored nine of the Wizards’ first 13 points in the quarter to stretch the lead to 18 points, and then Ariza took over the game in the second half of the quarter with eight points in a 1:48 span to stretch the Wizards’ lead to 27 points. Defensively, the Wizards held the Celtics to 22 percent shooting from the field (4-for-18) and just 16 points. Beal played half of the fourth quarter as insurance against a Celtics comeback, but other than that the Wizards’ starters had the rare opportunity to be cheerleaders as they coasted to victory.

When the buzzer sounded, the Wizards were officially a playoff team for the first time since 2008, Coach Wittman ended a journey that began in 2009 as an assistant coach, and John Wall, the Wizards number one overall pick in the 2010 draft, was able to rejoice at center court as an All-Star, playoff-bound point guard.

—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)


DC Council Chair

John Wall gets the glory. John Wall deserves the glory. Sure. Definitely.

A lot of players and coaches and et cetera deserve some portion of the glory.

But perhaps most of all: Marcin Gortat. Because with the roster as constructed going into the season, the Wizards would not have made the playoffs in the shitty Eastern Conference (one easily and securely presumes; although, thanks to Cleveland, Detroit, and New York for being part of the shittiness). Unexpected, season-long injuries like the one to Emeka Okafor happen. The Wizards and Ernie Grunfeld are just lucky that the sun (and the Phoenix Suns) continues to shine on that dog ass of theirs with the availability of Marcin Gortat at not a ridiculous price.

Gortat has been insanely key all season—and he’s only missed one game due to a back-tweak via a pre-game dunk. Against the lowly Celtics, he was no different.

As is usually the case, the Wizards looked to establish Gortat early, stroking his scoring desire with the game’s first offensive touch, which seems to happen more than not. Motivation, kiddo. So Gortat scored 12 points in the first quarter and finished with 22 points, his third most as a member of the team.

The Hammer dunked to open the night and legitimized all the bragging about his skills by besting Jared Sullinger (to the surprise of some). When Gortat is on the court this season, the Wizards allow an opponent Offensive Rating (OffRtg—points scored per 100 possessions) of 102.9. When he’s off the court, there’s a 6.3-point increase in points allowed (109.2). Last season the Wizards allowed an opponent OffRtg of 102.4 when Okafor was on the court, 104.0 with him off.

Gortat is clearly more of a difference-maker, and he clearly is a season-saver. All hail the Polish President.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)



DC Council Vetoed Participation

Drew Gooden. It seems cruel to have to pick on Gooden as the least valuable player on the Wizards’ squad, when all that mattered last night was their re-entry into the playoff picture. In fact, the night actually started off positive for Drew Gooden.

But as well as Gooden has played during his 17-game tenure as a member of the Wizards (he’s averaged 9.8 points and 5.8 rebounds, while shooting 54 percent from the field and 40 percent from the 3-point line), he was a non-factor against the Celtics. He was just 1-for-5 from the field, he wasn’t particularly effective on the boards, and as SB Nation’s Mike Prada pointed out, he was a step slow on defense as well.

Luckily for Gooden, the rest of the AARP crew picked up the slack. Andre Miller had eight assists in just 19 minutes, and Al Harrington dominated the fourth quarter with 12 points.

—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)


DC Council Top Aide

Trevor Ariza. 18 points, 13 shots, seven rebounds. Very helpful.

If you look up, via Basketball-Reference.com, all the NBA players throughout history with at least 170 3-pointers, 440 rebounds, and 115 steals over the course of 70 or less games, there is only one: T.A.

If you remove the games limitation, only eight different NBA players (11 times) have done such over the course of an entire season. Rare company indeed, especially when Antoine Walker leads the way.

Trevor Ariza is having a very magical contract year. Not the first magical contract year for a player, won’t be the last. Ariza’s is a bit extra magical, but still, keep this in mind.

But we’d be remiss if we didn’t also give Andre Miller a tip of the hat. The Professor dropped eight assists in less than 20 minutes off the bench. How rare is that? Well, it’s happened 424 times since 1985-86. So there’s that. But with the Wizards/Bullets franchise? … It’s only happened 18 times since ’85-86. And Andre Miller has done it twice. Very helpful.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)


DC Council Session

That session was … refreshing.

Just two nights ago against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Wizards lost a 14-point second-half lead, went scoreless the last four minutes of the game, and lost 100-94 on the road. Randy Wittman called his team “selfish,” Bradley Beal complained about the lack of defense and ball-movement, and John Wall blamed the basketball gods who he claimed, “didn’t want us to win this one.”

On Wednesday night, the Wizards once again amassed a sizable lead in the second half against a Celtics team that was potentially more dangerous than the Bobcats … because they had absolutely nothing to lose. The basketball gods were in the Wizards’ corner, and they helped their own case by playing defense and sharing the ball. The Wizards had nine assists in the third quarter alone and the scoring was evenly distributed (Ariza had eight, Booker had four, Gortat had six, Beal had nine, and Wall had two points and four assists). Defensively, the Wizards held the Celtics to just 16 points in the third on 4-for-18 shooting from the field and 12 percent from the 3-point line.

More importantly, in the fourth quarter, Wall and the other starters (aside from Beal) did not have to expend energy trying to reclaim or barely hold on to a lead. Instead, they took part in a 12-minute fourth quarter celebration. Al Harrington showed his full playoff repertoire, and Otto Porter, after the fans relentlessly chanted his name and urged Coach Wittman to put him in, scored nine points, as his teammates cheered wildly for each one. In a season where the Wizards have had to fight for every bit of success they’ve had (and that fight will continue during the regular season as they jockey for better playoff position) it was refreshing to see a piece of success—albeit against a lottery-bound, rebuilding team—come easy for the Wizards. As hokey as it may sound, the coaches, the front office, the players, and the fans deserved that at the very least.

John Wall agreed:

“It’s great, it’s everything I’ve been waiting for as a point guard and trying to learn how to lead in this league and become a better player but also I think the fans deserve it. The tough time they went through of them booing us and us feeling bad when we’re not playing good or playing the right way and having the right people around the organization. Those guys in the front office and the coaching staff are doing a great job of building us as players and trusting in their system and going out there and playing as a group and one whole team, it means a lot.”

—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)

John Wall on where the team goes
after the playoff-clinching win…



DC Council Mayor

“Let me tell you, it feels like I’ve been here 20 years…”

—Randy Wittman

[via instagram.com/truthaboutit]

[via instagram.com/truthaboutit]

The old dog, the old ball coach… This is a first for Randy, too, at least as a head coach.

As a player, Wittman saw 38 games of playoff action and more than 1,100 minutes. He even made it to the second round—three times; all as a member of the Atlanta Hawks.

Wittman didn’t expect to be in this situation. He did not “sign up for this,” as go the immortal words of one Flip, Subway-eating, Saunders. For all Randall Scott knew, he’d be toiling away as an NBA assistant with an uncomfortable walking motion for the rest of his life.

Instead, he has life. Basketball life. Helping life a hapless NBA franchise out of a “desperate situation”—his words, not mine.

Credit where credit is due, for now… But the work ain’t done. That’s for damn sure. Sputtering into the postseason over the last seven games and a sweep or a 4-1 first round series loss would go a long way toward negating this positive moment, and would likely send Wittman packing.

But that will be dealt with later… Until then, sweet relief and harmonious #WittmanFaces.

—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)



The Other Side.

A GIF of Celtics.

(courtesy of  @MrTpleDouble10, from the Celtics’ blog Red’s Army)

During the NCAA tournament, the networks make it their business to contrast the smiles and cheers of the victors with cries and dejection of the losers. The winners usually gather at center court, and the losers slowly make their way off the court with their heads in their hands or their jerseys over their faces. At some point, some poor sideline reporter has to venture over to that losing locker room and ask the coaches and players about what happened, what went wrong, and what there is to look forward to next season.

One of the reasons the Wizards’ return to the playoffs is so sweet is that for six seasons, the Wizards were that dejected team. There was late season greatness against teams who didn’t care about victories in April, and there were certainly times when the Wizards showed flashes of what could be, but the bottom line was that the Wizards were forced to answer questions about their ineptitude, when they’d return to the playoffs, and what there was to look forward to next season.

Last night after the game, the Boston Celtics’ locker room was that place for gloom, doom, and dejection. Forward Jeff Green left without speaking to the media. Jared Sullinger, who was one of the few bright spots for Boston with 25 points, gave one sentence answers. Coach Stevens, who before the game praised his team’s fight and grit despite the tough season, was hard pressed to find anything positive in his team’s performance:

“I don’t want to take anything away from [the Wizards] because it’s a big night for them—clinching the playoffs—and I thought they played great. But we didn’t provide any fight…We got what we deserved tonight. For the most part, in the last month, we have competed and played very, very well. Maybe even since the Golden State game at home, but every other game I felt like we were in and we competed… This is a very difficult challenge, to play 82 games with great tenacity, but that’s what we are paid to do and we didn’t tonight. I don’t see that becoming a trend, I don’t think it’s part of a trend, I think it’s just that we didn’t have it tonight. And that’s not good.”

That sentiment was shared by Rajon Rondo, who had a decent game (13 points, six assists, seven rebounds and a block), but turned the ball over a game-high seven times and was unable to dictate the tempo of the game as well as John Wall. Rondo blamed himself and the lack of transition defense for the loss:

“It starts with me. I didn’t know how to take care of the ball tonight, so in the first half they were able to get out and convert on transition. Bad shots that we shot led to transition buckets. It was pretty much an array of everything.”

When asked what he thought about John Wall’s first trip to the playoffs, he hesitated a bit, then begrudgingly gave his answer:

“I wish him well. It’ll be fun, exciting. Every game is on TV. Guys love to play on TV, I know I do.

[Rondo smirked a bit after saying this.]

“It’ll be fun. I’m sure he’s been waiting for this opportunity, I think he’s been like four or five years. For such a young guy to have so much pressure on him, having a franchise on his back, and he’s finally able to get to the playoffs, I’m sure it’s kind of like a burden lifted off of him. I’m sure he doesn’t want to settle there. I’m sure he wants to win, but you just have to take it one series at a time.”

—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)


Uncle Al Harrington on Wiz Kids:
Wall and Beal.


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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.