Through the first four games of the second round between the Celtics and Wizards, the impression is that this series is going seven.
Of course, there weren't a ton of Celtics fans feeling that way after Isaiah Thomas poured in 53 points in an inspiring Game 2 win that put the Celtics up 2-0 last week. But then the C's headed for our nation's capital, and let's just say for the first time in a while the real ugliness in D.C. came outside of the political sphere and inside the Wizards' Verizon Center, where the Celtics were embarrassed on two separate occasions.
We should have seen it coming. The Wizards are an exceptional home team, finishing the regular season 30-11 at home which included a 17-game home winning streak. They won all three home games against the Hawks in the first round, and have easily handled the Celtics in two there so far.
The Wizards went on a 22-0 run in Game 3 and a 26-0 run in Game 4 . . . not ideal. Boston will have to go back to D.C. for Game 6, and if recent history is any indication, it's in their best interest to win tonight's Game 5 at the TD Garden (8 p.m., TNT).
Stop the Bleeding
They say basketball is a game of runs, and if that's the case it makes sense why Boston has dropped the last two games. As mentioned above, the 22-0 and 26-0 runs, respectively, are unheard of in the playoffs. Even more concerning is how those runs came about - with turnovers. A whopping 19 of the Wizards' 26 straight points in Game 4 came off of Celtics turnovers in the third quarter. One recurring theme in this series is when things start to go bad for Boston, they get much worse before they get better (if they even do get better). Brad Stevens needs to be quicker to call timeouts and quicker to make substitutions in these instances. The Wizards ended up with 34 points off Celtics turnovers in Game 4. It can't happen again.
C's fears coming true
Isaiah Thomas' 53 points feels like a long time ago, doesn't it? The Celtics point guard has failed to score over 20 points in each of the last two games, which marks the first time all season that's happened. The Wizards are focusing much more on preventing Thomas from getting clean looks - and even from getting the ball. Unfortunately for Boston, there hasn't been another player to make up for the loss of Thomas' production when he's doubled. Avery Bradley has suffered yet another hip pointer injury, Marcus Smart can’t seem to get out of his own way, and Jae Crowder looks like he’s lost a step.
Time for a change?
All playoffs, Brad Stevens has been going back and forth between Amir Johnson and Gerald Green in the starting lineup. He saw some success with Green early on, but that’s about it between the two. It may be time for Stevens to make some bigger changes. Why hasn’t rookie Jaylen Brown, a player who was in the rotation for big parts of the regular seasons, been given more meaningful minutes in the playoffs? You may get the occasional rookie mistake from Brown, but playing him can’t hurt at this point. It may also be worth giving Tyler Zeller a shot at some playing time, as Johnson hasn’t done much to earn any. One thing remains clear: If the C’s don’t adjust tonight, it may be their last game of the season at TD Garden.