Game 4 Rapid Reaction: The Wizards Run Away From the Celtics | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Game 4 Rapid Reaction: The Wizards Run Away From the Celtics

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Updated: May 7, 2017

Rapid reaction from TAI’s Rashad Mobley to the Washington Wizards’  121-102 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

MVP:

John Wall started the game shooting 0-for-9 and he found himself on the bench next to Coach Scott Brooks unusually early–at the 3:00 mark of the first quarter to be exact.  The TNT cameras showed Wall’s face while he was on the bench, and each time he looked calm, but eager to get back on the court. When he left the game the Wizards trailed by five points. When he re-entered the game with 9:26 remaining in the second quarter, the Wizards deficit had increased to 10 points.

The Celtics lead would actually swell to 12 and then it was as if a switch went off in Wall’s head, and he had enough. Beginning with the 6:22 mark in the second quarter and lasting all the way through the end of the third quarter when the Wizards led by 22 points, Wall played at an astronomically high level.

During the second and third quarters, Wall scored 27 points and had six assists, and he controlled the tempo, the Wizards’ offense and the Celtics’ chances of winning. He got steals, he hit free throws, hit 3-point shots, he drove on Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and the entire Celtics defense.  At one point the TNT announcers vacillated between wondering if Wall was the second-best player in the East and then coming up with reasons why he might be better than Russell Westbrook. Wall had that good of a two quarter stretch.

What made Wall’s performance that much more gratifying was that it came after Isaiah Thomas’s quick start. Thomas hit his first three shots in the first quarter (all 3-pointers) and he had eight more points by halftime.  He scored just two more points the rest of the game and was a spectator as both Wall and Beal caught fire and kept Boston at bay.

X-Factor:

The Wizards third quarter defense.  The Wizards and Celtics were tied coming out of halftime and Washington quickly found themselves down five points after Amir Johnson hit two free throws and a 3-pointer.  Then the Wizards proceeded to go on a 42-15 run–which included a six minute 26-0 run in the middle of the quarter.

The Wizards had six steals in the quarter (Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Wall had two each) and every time one of the Celtics guards would attempt to get in the lane to make a play or a basket, the Wizards hands and arms were on the ball starting a fast break in the other direction.  Yes, Wall was in the midst of a masterful performance on the offensive end of the floor, but the collective defense of the Wizards was the catalyst–something Wall admitted to TNT’s David Aldridge right after the game ended.

Boston shot just 31-percent in the third quarter and Isaiah Thomas was held to just two points and five costly turnovers. Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder were held scoreless and Al Horford had just two points. When asked about the 26-0 run after the game, Beal gave credit where it was due, “Our defense, that’s all it was.”

That Game Was…A Sigh of Relief:

During the first three games of this series, the Wizards started quickly and held sizable leads. In Games 1 and 2, the Wizards lost the leads and eventually the game. In Game 3, the Wizards got the lead and didn’t look back despite Kelly Oubre’s eventful ejection.

So when the Wizards jumped out to an 8-0 lead, it appeared as if that trend would hold true for a fourth straight game. But Boston’s wake up call arrived much sooner than it had in the past three games, and by the 5:30 mark of the first quarter, the Celtics led 12-10.  To make matters worse, Isaiah Thomas appeared to be returning to his 53-point form from Game 2, by hitting all three of his 3-points. The first two were wide open, the second was mildly contested, but all three swished through the net, and it looked like the Celtics had figured out the Wizards’ puzzle.

But as has been mentioned in the MVP and  X-Factor sections, Wall and the Wizards’ defense shut the door on any hopes the Celtics may have had on winning the game, and the first quarter was a distant memory. The Wizards should  be wary of that same Isaiah Thomas appearing in Game 5 in Boston–especially since he seems to be a bit peeved at his teammates. But for the Wizards to make such a quick turnaround at the expense of the Celtics’ confidence was quite a surprise.

Next up? Game 5 on Wednesday night in Boston.

 

 

 

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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.