WASHINGTON – During the first time-out in Game 2 called by Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, his team was once again facing an early deficit.
The good news?
Instead of 16-0 as was the case in Game 1, the Celtics were "only" down 16-8.
Boston came back to win both games, but know the chances of getting off to such a horrible start and rallying to win will be a lot harder to do now that the best-of-seven series is now in Washington for Games 3 and 4.
Despite having a 2-0 series lead, the Celtics know there’s plenty of work left to be done as well as areas in need of improvement.
Near the top of that list has to be getting off to better starts.
“These guys (Wizards) have been good starters all year,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
During the regular season, the Wizards averaged 28.4 points in the first quarter which ranked fourth in the NBA. In the two playoff games thus far against Boston, the Wizards have pummeled the Celtics at the start of games with an astounding 40.0 points scored per game in the first.
“They blitzed us at the start of all six games,” said Stevens, referring to the four regular season meetings and the two in the playoffs. “We need to do a better job with that, while recognizing too, it doesn’t mean you can’t play well the rest of the game. We have to be as consistent as we can be throughout the rest of the game. But you have to be ready for that initial hit.”
Lacking a heightened sense of urgency to start games has been an issue at times for the Celtics this season.
“It’s simple,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “Coming out and understanding what we need to get as a team. Coming out playing hard; can’t come out cool. We come out and we’re ready to play, I feel like we’ll get a better start.”
Good starts are important, obviously.
But as the Celtics proved in Games 1 and 2, finishing is what matters most.
And while it certainly has to feel good for the players to be talked about in such glowing terms of late, the Celtics may soon find themselves battling what may be their greatest foe – overconfidence.
Fat chance of that happening under Stevens’ watch.
After Boston won Games 1 and 2, he has stayed consistent in his talk of his team not playing as the series’ status (2-0 Celtics) might indication.
And even if the Celtics absolutely dominated Washington in both games which they didn’t, the Celtics would still have no reason to believe that this series is over.
Especially against a Washington team that was one of just six teams in the NBA (the Celtics were one of the six as well) to win 30 or more games at home.
“There’s nothing accomplished until you win four games in a series,” Stevens said. “These guys (Wizards) have been great here; not good, great. And have … both games could have gone either way but they really outplayed us more quarters than not.”