Five takeaways from C's win over Wizards
Five takeaways from C's win over Wizards: Plenty in reserve
ATLANTA – Brad Stevens will be the first to tell you that he’s not in the same coaching class as Bill Belichick.
But slowly but surely, Stevens is developing a similar plug-and-play system in which a key player or two can be out and a backup steps in and performs well enough to earn a victory.
We saw that in Wednesday night’s 117-108 win over the Washington Wizards.
The Celtics were down a pair of starters as Avery Bradley missed his third straight game with a right Achilles injury and Amir Johnson had to tap out following the team’s shoot around because of an ankle injury he suffered the previous night at Toronto.
Smart didn’t have a great shooting night (3-for-11, nine points), but his defense – particularly down the stretch – was huge in Boston winning at home for the sixth straight time.
And then there was second-year big man Jordan Mickey, who made his first NBA start against the Wizards.
Mickey had only appeared in nine games this season prior to Wednesday, with the last being Dec. 7 when he logged 1 minute, 47 seconds in a 30-point Celtics win over Orlando.
Against the Wizards, Mickey played just less than 14 minutes, scoring four points while making his lone field goal attempt, in addition to grabbing two rebounds while also tallying one assist and one blocked shot while altering others.
His final line for the night and overall impact was in many ways a more downsized version of what Johnson provides, the kind of performance that reminds us all just how much this team – this franchise – is growing.
“I'm just happy; happy to get those minutes, be able to play and show some of the things I can do,” Mickey told CSNNE.com following the win over the Wizards. “Also, I was able to help my team get a win.”
Here are five other takeaways from the victory:
It’s always an adventure for the Celtics when it comes to rebounding, and Wednesday was no exception. Despite being out-rebounded 16-10 on the offensive glass and being outscored 22-19 in second-chance points, the Celtics wound up winning the overall rebounding battle, 45-44. For all the analytics used to guesstimate how the Celtics will fare, there’s no clearer indicator of their success than rebounding. They win the battle of the boards, they win the game. Period. That’s how it has been for Boston which boasts a perfect 10-0 record when they out-rebound an opponent.
ROZIER STAYS READY
With Gerald Green’s ascension to a more consistent spot in the rotation, this has meant limited opportunities for second-year guard Terry Rozier to play. But to Rozier’s credit, he has kept himself ready to play whenever the opportunity to do so presented itself. That was indeed the case on Wednesday when Rozier came off the bench and scored 11 points which was his first double-digit scoring effort since he had 12 points in a seven-point loss at San Antonio on Dec. 14.
All season this has been the shot of choice for the Celtics, and for good reason. They are knocking them down at a rate that we’ve never seen under Stevens. Wednesday’s victory was fueled in part by Boston making 17 of its 41 three-pointers (41.5 percent). And unlike a lot of teams, the Celtics get it done collectively, which is what happened against the Wizards as seven different Celtics made at least one 3-pointer.
We talk a lot about what Isaiah Thomas does in the fourth quarter offensively. But the momentum in Wednesday’s win over the Wizards was fueled in large part by the Celtics defense in the fourth quarter. After having lit the Celtics up for 33 points after three quarters of play, Washington’s Bradley Beal only had one basket in the fourth quarter. And collectively, the Celtics limited the Wizards to just 35.7 percent (10-for-28) shooting from the field in the fourth.
The tone of the game changed dramatically in the third quarter, and it was clear to see why. The Celtics decided to stop chirping about the game’s physical play and actually do something about it. Their ability to get into the airspace of Washington’s shooters while being the aggressor offensively and not whining about not getting calls – Isaiah Thomas acknowledged after the game that they did too much of that in the first half – was huge. And while the intensity spilled over after the game with Jae Crowder and John Wall needing to be separated, that doesn’t change the fact that this win came about because they finally decided to play a tough game rather than just talk one.