WASHINGTON – Brandon Jennings makes no secret that part of his game involves trying to mentally get into the head of his opponents.
And his target among the Boston Celtics?
That would be Terry Rozier who has had a couple of run-ins with Jennings this season, the most recent leading to both players getting tossed in Washington’s 116-89 Game 3 win.
They were each whistled for a technical foul with 10:36 to play in the fourth quarter due to their usual back-and-forth jawing with one another. And when they continued afterward, the officials – wanting to make sure things didn’t get out of control and escalate into a bigger deal – whistled both players for a second technical foul just 42 seconds later which meant an automatic ejection for both players.
Jennings said the second technical foul picked up by both players was Rozier’s fault.
“I think it was because he (Rozier) just kept it going,” Jennings said on Friday. “I think they just threw us both out. We’re competitive and it’s the playoffs. Guys don’t want to show any type of weakness at all. Just two guys competing.”
But here’s the thing.
This series is full of guys competing, at every position.
There will be the usual smack talk, obviously.
Pushing, poking, hard fouls and hard screens?
Yup, that’s all on tap as well.
But there’s something different about Rozier and Jennings, something that seems to lead to both players getting under the other’s skin almost immediately upon stepping on the floor.
When these two met on March 20 in the regular-season finale, Jennings was whistled for a technical foul involving Rozier which seemed to be the jumping off-point in the unexpected disdain between these two which has carried over into what has been a very contentious playoff series thus far.
“This series is going to be feisty, for one,” Jennings said. “It’s two teams competing. Both our goals is getting to the Eastern conference finals and also win a ring. For us, we took their first punches in Boston and we felt that. We wanted to come in Game 3 and do the same thing they did to us.”
The Wizards did just that, dominating the Celtics in every significant phase of play.
Rebounds. Assists. Points in the paint. Second-chance points.
You name the statistical category and the Celtics were owned by the Wizards in it.
And with Game 4 on the horizon, fans can bank on another testy, physical game between these two who have made it the worst kept secret in the nation’s capital that they do not like each other.
“It (Game 3) was very physical,” Jennings said. “I woke up this morning sore and I didn’t play that much. I was just sore from all the mental, all the wuffing and elbows and things like that. It’s definitely going to be physical, but that’s what the playoffs are all about. Nobody wants to go home.”