Wizards jump out early and never falter in 116-89 beatdown of Celtics

Wizards jump out early and never falter in 116-89 beatdown of Celtics

WASHINGTON – Technical fouls. Ejections. Long stare downs.

Ever since Boston’s Game 2 win, we’ve heard the Washington Wizards talk about being more physical, hitting first and all those clichés that percolate to the surface when a team has played well but not well enough to win. 

Well the Wizards didn’t allow the Celtics to make their usual second half surge in Game 3 as Washington took over in a game that was never really close as the Wizards defeated the Celtics, 116-89.

And that physical play that has defined this series in many ways, really seemed to boil over in Game 3 with both teams being whistled for four technical fouls each, resulting in a pair of ejections (Boston’s Terry Rozier and Washington’s Brandon Jennings).

Wizards wing Kelly Oubre Jr., was called for a flagrant-2 foul (an automatic ejection) when he charged towards Kelly Olynyk and knocked him down after Olynyk was whistled for an offensive foul while trying to screen Oubre Jr. 

Even the head coaches got into the act with Brad Stevens and Washington’s Scott Brooks each being whistled for a technical foul in the third and fourth quarter, respectively. 

Boston still leads the best-of-seven series 2-1 with Game 4 at the Verizon Center on Sunday and Game 5 back in Boston on Tuesday. 

Stevens went back to having Gerald Green in the starting lineup, but that did nothing to improve the horrible starts that the Celtics have gotten off to in the first two games. 

Game 3 was no different as Washington opened with a 7-2 spurt with all seven points scored by Bradley Beal. 

It only got worst from there with the Wizards rolling along to what was the most dominant performance thus far in this series by either team. 

Washington’s game plan on defending Isaiah Thomas worked to near perfection. 

After lighting up the Wizards for a playoff career-high 53 points in Game 2, there was a point in the game when it wasn’t a given that Thomas would even crack double digits scoring. 

He would finish the game with 13 points on 3-for-8 shooting.

Not only did the Wizards seemingly swarm towards Thomas whenever he had the ball, but they made him work a lot harder than usual on defense.

Washington’s Otto Porter Jr. benefited more than anyone else when matched up with Thomas, shooting short jumper after short jumper over Thomas who is several inches shorter. 

More than anything, the Wizards found that balance between being physical without crossing the line … most of the time anyway (see: Olynyk/Oubre Jr. incident). 

Washington dominating Game 3 shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. They were one of six teams in the NBA this season to win at least 30 games at home. 

And based on how they played in Games 1 and 2 in Boston, they certainly came into Game 3 feeling as though they could win and win convincingly. 

The Celtics had to rally from huge deficits in both of their wins in Boston, something that Stevens acknowledged might have been fueled in part by the TD Garden crowd. 

But there would be none of that in Game 3, a game that the Wizards dominated in every way imaginable. 

The only bright spot the Celtics can take from the loss is that they still have a 2-1 series lead, and a couple days between now and Sunday’s pivotal Game 4 matchup to correct the many mistakes made Thursday night. 

Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Kyrie Irving could be back on the court in time for the Celtics to begin the playoffs.

Or not.

Irving will have what the Celts are describing as a "minimally invasive procedure" on his injured left knee Saturday. NBC Sports Boston talked to Dr. Christopher Chihlas from Southcoast Health -- who has not examined Irving but is familiar with his type of injury -- about how long Irving may be sidelined.

"A minimally invasive procedure is basically an arthroscopy," said Dr. Chihlas. "His return to play is mostly dependent on what is done . . . If it's just a cleanout, as we're being told, then -- best-case scenario -- we could see him back playing in three to four weeks."

But, he added, "it could be double that . . . depending upon what exactly is found . . . 

"The key here is the patella fracture (which Irving suffered during the 2015 playoffs). My feeling is that he's suffering a bit of the consequence of the patella fracture, which is a fracture into the knee joint . . . [He] may need to have this done periodically to get him through the rest of his career."


Terry Rozier's rise should continue without Kyrie Irving

AP Photo

Terry Rozier's rise should continue without Kyrie Irving

When it comes to Western Conference powers, the casual NBA fan will immediately think of the defending champion Golden State Warriors, or the Houston Rockets who loom as their biggest threat. 

And then there’s the next-best team in the West, Portland, which has been sneaky good this season with very little fanfare. 

Boston will see first-hand just how talented the Blazers are when these two square off tonight.

Portland’s improved play of late (they’ve won 13 of their last 14 games) is fueled in large part by them taking more 3-pointers. 

Prior to Jan. 1, the Blazers averaged 24.6 three-point attempts which ranked 26th in the NBA. Since then, they have increased their 3-point attempt average to 30.5 which ranks 12th in the league.

Couple that with a defense that has been among the league’s best most of this season, and voila! – you’ve got a team that’s playing great basketball at just the right time. 

But the Celtics on many levels, while undermanned because of injuries, are still an elite team defensively.

And the one area where Boston has been strong all season, is defending the three-point shot.

Opponents are shooting a league-low 34.1 percent against Boston from 3-point range this season.

And while Boston’s defense isn’t the same when you’re talking about not having a Marcus Smart in the lineup, the Celtics are still a formidable foe at that end of the floor. 

In Boston’s last four games, all without Smart, Boston’s defensive rating is 98.8 which is good for the fourth-best in the NBA in that time period. 

“We’ve been a next man up kind of team all season,” Boston’s Semi Ojeleye told NBC Sports Boston. “That’s why it’s important to always stay ready. Because you know at some point on this team, you’re number’s going to be called and you’ll get your opportunity.”

Here are five under-the-radar story lines as the Boston Celtics seek to continue their strong play this season against Western Conference foes, at Portland. 



Terry Rozier has been a different kind of player ever since he got his first start a few weeks ago filling in for Kyrie Irving. The third-year guard has scored in double figures 20 straight games, a career first for him. In that span he has averaged 15.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 41.9 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from 3-point range.


If tonight’s game plays out as expected, points will be at a premium. Boston has the league’s top-ranked defense (101.2) even as its defensive rating has slipped to No. 5 in the league (103.1) since the all-star break. Meanwhile, the Blazers have the seventh-best defensive rating (104.3) this season, but are third (101.0) in the NBA since the all-star break.


You will be hard-pressed to find a player who wouldn’t mind a little rest with the playoffs less than a month away. But are a couple days without games too much rest? It certainly looks that way for the Celtics who are 4-6 this season with two or more days of rest before a game. The Portland Trail Blazers are at the opposite end of the success spectrum with a 10-3 record when they’ve had two days of rest before a game. 


Both Boston and Portland have been among the NBA’s better defensive rebounding teams all season. But they have each stepped up their defensive rebounding play this month. Portland, the fourth-best defensive rebounding team this season, have grabbed a league-best 83.2 percent in March while the Celtics, the sixth-best defensive rebounding team this season, are up to No. 3 (80.6 percent) this month.


Jayson Tatum is nearing the end of one of the best rookie seasons by a Boston Celtic ever, well on his way to statistically cementing himself as one of the franchise’s best first-year players ever. The 6-foot-8 forward is 35 points shy of tallying 1,000 points which would make him the ninth rookie ever to do so for Boston, with the last to do so being Ron Mercer during the 1997-1998 season.