BOSTON – The Boston Celtics are used to playing short a player or two.
But how about five?
That was the predicament the Celtics found themselves in on Wednesday against the Washington Wizards. It didn’t help matters that the Wizards came in as one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference.
Despite having just 10 players in uniform, Boston still managed to stay within striking distance most of the first half which ended with the Celtics behind 59-55.
Two starters – Avery Bradley (Achilles strain) and Amir Johnson (ankle) – were among the five players out for the Celtics.
In addition to Bradley and Johnson, the Celtics were also playing without Jaylen Brown (ankle), Tyler Zeller (illness) and James Young (ankle).
Marcus Smart was once again in the starting lineup for Bradley, while second-year forward Jordan Mickey was making his first NBA start. At the half he had four points, two rebounds and a blocked shot in 10 minutes.
The first quarter was one in which both teams found a rhythm shooting the ball as the quarter ended with Boston clinging to a 36-35 lead.
It remained a tightly contested game in the second quarter, with neither team showing any signs of pulling away anytime soon.
However, the Wizards made just enough plays at both ends of the floor to take a slim four-point lead into the half.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Wednesday’s game.
The Celtics had no answer for Beal in the first half, utilizing a slew of screens that freed him up for open or lightly contested jumpers. And he made the Celtics defense pay for that, scoring 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting.
He generates most of his offense on spot-up jumpers, and the Wizards seemed willing to give him that shot often. He led the Celtics with 14 points which included four 3-pointers.
He continued to drive to the basket, but didn’t seem to get a friendly whistle which frustrated him at times and led to him being whistled for a technical foul in the second quarter. That still didn’t stop him from making an impact, scoring 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting.
Otto Porter Jr.
He was a major thorn in the Celtics’ side when they played earlier this season, and he was causing problems again on Wednesday. He had 13 points, four assists and four rebounds in the first half.
The Washington Wizards deserve some credit for Boston’s 10 first-half turnovers, but not a lot. Far too many of them were unforced miscues where the Celtics simply did a poor job at making basic passes. At the half, the Wizards had 12 points scored off of Boston’s 10 turnovers.