Five takeaways from a big victory
BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics have had their share of impressive wins this season. But few compare to Monday’s 110-102 victory over the Washington Wizards.
The potential playoff implications alone were reason enough for this to be one of the team’s finest games to date.
But there was so much more to this victory, the kind of win that strengthened the C's hold on the No. 2 seed in the East while still keeping hope alive that they can manage to move past Cleveland and wind up as the top overall seed in the East.
“We played the right way, we moved the ball around,” said Avery Bradley. “We had a lot of guys that showed up [against Washington] and played hard and well on both ends of the floor.”
Here are five other takeaways from Monday’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards.
The NBA has become a jump-shooting league fueled by long-range shooting both in the backcourt as well as up front. The Wizards have been so good of late due to the fact that they have four players in their starting five with long-range shooting capability. But the Celtics defense managed to keep those four -- Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris, Bradley Beal and John Wall -- in check most of the game from 3-point range as they combined to shoot just 21.1 percent on 4-for-19 shooting.
It was a telling sign when 5-foot-9 Isaiah Thomas squirmed into the paint right before the half for a tip-in at the rim. Yes, even the smallest guy on the floor was making an impact on the offensive boards for the Celtics. His put-back was part of a dominant display by Boston on the offensive glass, tallying a season-high 20 offensive rebounds which led to 22 second-chance points. It was the first time since Game 2 of their 2009 first-round playoff series against Chicago that the Celtics grabbed at least 20 offensive rebounds and still managed to win the game.
JAE CROWDER’S EMERGENCE
As we get deeper into this season, Crowder continues to deliver in ways that makes the desire to upgrade the small-forward position not quite as desirable as it was a year or so ago. He’s doing more than just putting up better numbers. He’s making an impact where it counts the most -- winning. In addition to a near double-double of 16 points and 9 rebounds, Crowder also had three steals, a blocked and a plus/minus of plus-15 which was tied for the best +/- on the night with Isaiah Thomas.
BRADLEY’S TWO-WAY TALENT
When it comes to making an impact, there’s no other Celtic player who excels at both ends of the floor like Avery Bradley. He defends the best perimeter player every night, scores in the low to high teens most nights, and does so in a quiet, stealth-like manner. And after missing a bunch of games with an Achilles issue, Bradley is gradually getting back to the high level of play we saw prior to the injury. Against the Wizards, he set the tone with some early scoring that contributed to him scoring 20 points -- the most he has had since returning to the lineup.
I.T. HELP DESK BACK UP AND RUNNING
It comes as no surprise that the Boston Celtics function at a much higher rate on so many levels with Isaiah Thomas in the lineup. While he was certainly a little rusty on Monday, it was clear early on just how valuable he is to this team. Perimeter looks for Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder were more plentiful. There were more pick-your-poison possessions for the Wizards defense having to decide how to deal with Thomas on the perimeter and Al Horford on the block. And despite having an off night shooting the ball (he was 7-for-19), he still managed to score a game-high 25 points.