The MVPs of the Wizards-Celtics thus far have been John Wall, Isaiah Thomas and hate. They’ve all been around for a while.
No, the bad blood between the C’s and the Wizards doesn’t put them in the Red Sox-Yankees, Bruins-Canadiens or Patriots-whoever’s-complaining-about-the-Patriots-now category, but for a good year and a half, the C’s and Wizards have had some legitimate juice.
Just look at Scott Brooks’ comments about Kelly Olynyk last night. As the Wizards coach lamented what a dirty player Olynyk was (without saying his name), Brooks was the second Wizards coach to put himself in the middle of the action in the last 18 months.
Last January, it was the since-fired Randy Wittman who got in the thick of it, with Jae Crowder saying he took a technical foul in response to Wittman swearing at him.
“Wittman was saying some stuff I didn’t like,” Crowder said at the time. “I felt he was getting away with a lot of curse words, inappropriate words to me and I retaliated and I got hit with a tech.”
The Celtics won a close game that night (119-117), and the teams behaved when they met again the next week in a 116-91 blowout Celtics win that then-Wizards forward Jared Dudley called “embarrassing."
This season opened an entirely new can of worms, with Wall serving as an early catalyst. Wall was ejected from the teams’ first meeting of the season -- a 118-93 Washington win -- for his part in a fourth-quarter dustup with Marcus Smart.
That set the stage for a hilarious January meeting that was highlighted by an altercation between Wall and Jae Crowder following the final buzzer. After the two jawed at one another, Crowder got in Wall’s face and gave him a Superbad-style “boop” on the nose. Rather than saying “I love you” like in the movie, Wall responded by smacking Crowder.
Five police officers stood in the Garden hall between the locker rooms to prevent any further incident. Crowder and Wall were fined $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.
"Just some altercation. We knew there was going to be some trash-talking," Wall said of the ordeal. "We knew it was going to be a physical game. That's all it was: Just a little trash-talking and a physical game."
Like the season before, the teams had another meeting shortly after tempers had flared, but this season saw the Wizards double down. They dressed in all back prior to the game, which Wall explained by calling the game a “funeral.”
“That’s cute that they're wearing all black. It's not a Game 7. It's not the playoffs,” Thomas said in response. “I saw the the funeral and all black thing last night and I just laughed about it.”
The Wizards went on to crush the C’s, 123-108. The final regular-season meeting between the teams, a 110-102 Boston win, saw Terry Rozier shove Brandon Jennings, resulting in technical fouls for both.
So there figured to be issues when the teams met in the second round of the playoffs. After Game 3’s incidents -- highlighted by Kelly Oubre losing his mind on Olynyk and ended up being one of three players tossed -- there’s no telling where the series goes from here. Probably not anywhere peaceful.