"They obviously were locked into him the whole game, but obviously more so after the barrage of 3s", Celtics coach Brad Stevens said, crediting the Wizards for switching and sticking on Thomas off pick-and-rolls. You have to be able to execute our game plan.
The Wizards broke out to another fast start with an 8-0 run to start the game.
There has been no worse physical beef between two teams in recent memory than the Celtics and Wizards, especially in this era of a higher level of friendliness and sportsmanship.
Isaiah Thomas connected on his first three 3-pointers while Al Horford had four assists and a block in the first eight minutes. Oscar Lindberg scored twice last night and tough guy Tanner Glass had two assists for the Rangers win. It marked the first time in this series that they led after the first period.
Channing Frye had 10 points, and Cleveland finished 16 for 41 from 3-point range. 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. Wall scored all 27 of his points in the second and third quarters after not scoring in the first quarter at all. The latest charged matchup included 52 personal fouls, eight technical fouls and Washington's Kelly Oubre Jr. getting ejected in the first half for a Flagrant 2 foul. Thomas, who had some dental work adjusted at halftime, scored seven points at the free throw line. They were just minus-three in the two wins at home.
After those first two games - I don't think anyone thought this was going to be a sweep, but I believe most thought Boston would take one game or at least play both games tight - the Celtics were in the driver seat.
"We love that shot".
Thomas didn't take his first shot Thursday until almost four minutes into the game and didn't register his first point until a free throw with 1:22 to play in the first quarter.
The Celtics do not want to give the Wizards the confidence they need to win on the road, because coming out of this 2-2 means that the Celtics have no more margin for error. We've been showing them. Washington would go on a 26-0 run over five minutes and 59 seconds, forcing six Celtics turnovers and making 10 of their 13 shots. Wall continued warming up has he hit a pair of field goals to help close the Wizards within three, 42-39, as the only basket in the 11-2 Wizards run was a Bradley dunk. I'm not the one that likes hitting the ground.
Escaping with a 3-1 series lead will put the team in a position that anyone would have loved heading into this series, but being tied 2-2 tells a completely different story.
What was odd was that in the first quarter, the Celtics didn't seem interested in carrying over some of that Game 3 momentum with Thomas on the ball.
Fundamentally, the Wizards' game is defending well and turning defensive rebounds into quick transition points. That would make them huge favorites to progress to the Eastern Conference Finals. 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.
In their last playoff series the Hawks accused the Wizards of playing "MMA" instead of basketball, so it's clear teams are taking notice of their aggressive style. But if Games 3 and 4 are any indication, it won't matter much.