Key Legislature: Wizards 98 at Celtics 118 — Washington's Afterburners Sputter Out | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 98 at Celtics 118 — Washington’s Afterburners Sputter Out

Updated: November 7, 2015

TAI’s Key Legislature… The game’s defining moment, its critical event, the wildest basketball thing you ever saw, or just stuff that happened. Wizards at Celtics, Regular Season, Game 5, Nov. 6, 2015, by Sean Fagan (@McCarrick).

Let us put the lede up front: The Wizards were torn apart by the Boston Celtics last night in a game that was as competitive as the “Christians vs. Lions” cage matches of old. So ragged were the Wizards on the evening that the entire team effort could be be seen as boon to fans who were looking to enjoy an nice Friday night out with a loved one. When the halftime score of a professional basketball game reads 72-49 and your team is not doing the trouncing, you can more often than not feel safe in putting down the remote and turning your attention to more important activities, such as your stamp collection or getting an early start on your taxes. Better to put your mind to any sort of mundane activity rather than attempt to rationalize the dismal performance of a team that went toe-to-toe with the San Antonio Spurs and emerged triumphant, only to fall completely apart two days later.

There will, of course, be the rationalizations as to why a favorite flounders against weaker competition. There are always going to be nights like these over the course of an 82-game season, where a team that was touted as one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference is going to instead resemble a cellar-dweller, where the shots don’t fall and the defense hemorrhages more points than a Romanov heir. However, it was the manner in which the Wizards lost (and the resulting narrative) that leads one to some troubling conclusions. The Wizards were beaten at their own game last night, their pace-and-space offense demolished by an even faster and more frenetic Celtics team.

Boston, a team going through their own identity crisis, began savaging the Wizards early in the first quarter on the backs of two of their three newly-installed starters, Jared Sullinger and Isaiah Thomas. Sullinger was first to the bell, looking every bit of the prototypical smallball center that the Wizards hope to emulate in their own system. Given room by Marcin Gortat, Sullinger casually rained jumpers over the heads of the Wizards and continually outmaneuvered an overmatched Kris Humphries in the post. He had 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting from the field in the first quarter.

But it was Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics waterbug point guard, who provided the game’s defining moment and a referendum on how pace and space can wreck a team’s ambition if the pace is not in some way controlled. With 1:41 remaining in the first quarter and the Celtics already up by 13, the Wizards went to work on the offensive end. Ramon Sessions casually tossed the ball to Nene who was immediately swarmed by two Celtics defenders. Nene, who resembled a giant beset by gnats then threw an errant pace that was immediately stolen by the Celtics’ Evan Turner. Turner passed the ball to Thomas, who raced up the court at a speed that no Wizards besides John Wall (pinned to the bench with early foul trouble) could hope to match and immediately canned a 3-pointer in transition. Desperate, the Wizards raced back up the floor and coughed up the ball once again, with Sessions attempting to drive past Thomas and missing a layup. The Celtics immediately took off in the opposite direction ,Thomas all but juked Sessions out of his high tops and beat all help defenders to the basket for another easy layup, giving the Celtics an 18-point lead. From there the game was done and dusted as the Wizards had been laid to earth with three quarters left to play.

The stats bear out what a casual “eye test” observed: The Celtics were relentless in the evening and the Wizards simply couldn’t match their activity. The Wizards gave the ball away 24 times and the Celtics had an obscene total of 18 steals, many resulting from Wizards players simply failing to distribute the ball with any type of energy or acumen. The Wizards spent an entire evening getting blown out by a team that effectively ran Washington’s own system more effectively and efficiently than they could themselves, out of mishmash of parts and pieces that has yet to find the identity or notoriety of D.C.’s“House of Guards.”

However, it is the season’s narrative that should prove the most troubling to Wizards fans who have now lurched from overwhelming joy after the win against San Antonio to possible deep confusion in a blowout loss to the Celtics. The Wizards are 3-2 in this young season and both losses have come to teams (New York, Boston) that are supposedly several rungs below the Wizards in terms of quality. There are those who will point to the fact that it’s early days yet and the Wizards are still figuring out their rotation and the incorporation of new assets like Jared Dudley and Gary Neal. But it is becoming a hallmark of the Randy Wittman era to continually drop games pre-marked as “Ws” on the schedule in a manner that is not only frustrating but also deeply underwhelming. One can only hope that when the Wizards are positioning themselves for seeding in March that they won’t look back to a November night in Boston and wish that had actually shown up to play.


  • We saw Boston’s highest-scoring first half since January of 2010.
  • The 40 points scored by the Celtics in the first quarter were seven more than Brad Stevens’ bunch had scored in any period through the first four games.
  • Bradley Beal? Still scoring (24 points on 15 shots). John Wall? Still all right. See the Vine below.

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Sean Fagan
Reporter / Writer/Gadfly at TAI
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Sean has contributed to TAI since the the dawn of Jan Vesely and has been on the Wizards beat since 2008. His work has been featured on ESPN, Yahoo and He still believes that Mike Miller never got a fair shot.