WASHINGTON – The first quarter storm that has swept over the Boston Celtics in the first three games of their playoff series with Washington, was nothing more than a slight drizzle in Game 4.
But then came the third quarter downpour by the Wizards to the tune of a 26-0 run that washed away any hopes the Celtics had of victory.
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“You don’t anticipate going into a game against the best record in the East, be on a 26-0 run after they score the first four or five points with a timeout in between. That happens,” said Wizards head coach Scott Brooks. “That has happened to us, maybe not to that extent but it happens. Defensively, it gave us a chance to get out in transition. We were active, we were solid in our positioning. We have to continue to do that. With all that being said, we won our two home games. When we were down 2-0 our guys don’t panic, they believe in each other. They knew that we needed to come home and take care of business.”
And so here we are, tied at two games apiece after Washington’s 121-102 Game 4 win.
Like Game 3, the Wizards won by a pretty comfortable margin.
But what’s lost in their success against Boston, is the two Washington victories were decided by a five or six-minute stretch in which the Celtics couldn’t score or stop the Wizards from scoring.
In Washington’s 116-89 Game 3 win, the Wizards closed out the first quarter with a 27-5 run.
“Their attack in transition killed us,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “In each of these two games, I think that our offense and our turnovers in that run separated the game. Last game it was in the first quarter, (Game 4) it was in the third quarter. They made us pay for it.”
As much as Isaiah Thomas was bothered by the way Game 4 was officiated, he readily admitted the 26-0 run by Washington was the difference in the game.
“We can’t have that on the road,” said Thomas who added, “but I cannot allow to be held and grabbed on every pin-down, every screen and I don’t even shoot one free throw.”
More free throws would have definitely helped, but the Celtics had bigger problems than getting to the line.
“We got to be confident,” Thomas said. “For whatever reason, today guys had their heads down after missing a few shots. If we are getting the right shots and are missing, just continue to shoot. We have to remain confident. I mean, the only thing that they did was take care of business at home like we did. It's a series now. It's back to 0-0. We just got to remain confident, keep shooting with confidence and don't allow them to go on 22-0 runs, 26-0 runs. If any team gets hit with that, you are most likely going to lose.”
There’s nothing the Celtics can do about Games 3 and 4 now.
Their focus has to be on learning from these last two games, and using that knowledge going forward to help them get back on track with a Game 5 win on Wednesday.
“They played harder than us, and things were going their way,” said Boston’s Terry Rozier. “That’s what happens when you play hard, but we’re not going to overreact. They took care of business at home, they did what they were supposed to do. We have to do what we have to do next game.”