Just 10 days ago the Celtics were thought of by many as a fraudulent team, one that could rack up wins in the regular season but one that routinely crumbled under the bright lights of the playoffs. Today, that sentiment is likely shared by few as the Celtics have now won five straight NBA playoff games. It is the Celtics’ longest such playoff win streak since they won six straight in 2010 – a year in which they took the Lakers to seven games in the NBA Finals.
The C’s dumped the Wizards, 123-111, Sunday at TD Garden in Game 1 of their semi-finals series. It was a whacky affair in that the Celtics were down 16-0 to start the game and were down 14 points, 38-24, after just one quarter. Boston chipped away in the second quarter and a Jae Crowder corner 3-pointer put the Celtics ahead for the first time on the day at the seven minute mark in the third. Another Crowder 3-ball at the 2:24 mark of the third forced Washington into a time out and the C’s unfathomably had themselves a sizable lead of 11.
Crowder had a monster game from deep, connecting on 6-of-8 shots from downtown and scoring 24 points overall. Isaiah Thomas once again was the Celts’ high scorer, pouring in 33.
Al Horford had arguably his best game as a member of the green, pumping in 21 points, dishing out 10 assists and pulling down nine rebounds. His pretty assist to a cutting Jaylen Brown underneath the basket late in the fourth cemented the Game 1 win for the Celtics.
Oddly enough, neither Horford or Crowder scored in the first quarter. Thomas and Kelly Olynyk were the only Boston players who showed up on time, as they combined for 22 of the Celtics’ 24 first quarter points.
Defensively, Avery Bradley and company kept John Wall in check as the Wizards star had a quiet 20 points on 9-of-20 shooting. Wall did have a whopping 16 assists but Bradley Beal led the way scoring-wise for Washington, recording 27.
Olynyk (12 points total), Brown (five points), Marcus Smart (six points) and Terry Rozier (four points) all had strong games off the bench for the C’s.
Amir Johnson, who lost his starting job to Gerald Green in the Bulls series, played just nine minutes Sunday and did not score. Green did start the game, but he actually played less minutes than Johnson – only logging seven. He did not even attempt a shot.