Five takeaways from C's loss: Fortunate to be in a series tie
BOSTON -- When the Boston Celtics were ahead 2-0 in their best-of-seven series with Washington, there wasn’t a hint of overconfidence on Brad Stevens’ part.
He said at the time that the series was far from over, reminding anyone with a camera or camera phone that the Wizards were a very good team at home, had a pair of dynamic scorers in John Wall and Bradley
Beal, and talented youngsters like Otto Porter Jr.
So the idea that we’re in a 2-2 tie after four games is not a shocker.
But don’t be fooled.
The Celtics are fortunate to not be trailing in a series that, for the most part, they have been playing from behind.
Following the Game 4 loss, I asked Stevens about what were some of the takeaways for him that could be a benefit to the Celtics in their preparation for Game 5 on Wednesday night.
“I have some in my mind, but I’ll look at the tape and figure out ways that we can play better,” Stevens said. “We started better. The first quarter was way better. But there’s four of them (and) we weren’t very good in the third.”
Here are five takeaways from Boston’s 121-102 Game 4 loss at Washington.
STICK WITH JOHNSON
Amir Johnson only had five points in Game 4, but his presence with the starting unit was a huge factor in Boston leading 24-20 after the first quarter. With Johnson, the Celtics matchup better with Washington’s 1-2 frontcourt punch of Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris. Having him on the floor does make spacing offensively more difficult. But the upside defensively with Johnson instead of Gerald Green makes the offensive hit that Boston takes, more than worth it.
BUILDING A WALL
We’re four games into this series and the Celtics still haven’t figured out a way to keep John Wall from getting into the paint consistently. His dribble-drive penetration has led to lots of points for himself as well as for his teammates, who are getting great looks at the rim due to the attention his penetration has drawn. In this series, Wall is averaging a double-double of 27.8 points, 12.3 assists while shooting 46.5 percent from the field.
The Wizards are a team whose offense is often fueled by causing turnovers that lead to easy scores. And they were at their defensive best at home the last two games. In the Celtics' two wins in Boston, the C's turned the ball over 27 times which led to 34 points for the Washington. In the two games in the Wizards’ den, Boston coughed it up 36 times, which led to 51 points. Simply put, the Celts have to cut down significantly on the number of turnovers they commit if they are to regain control of this series.
BE THE BEST BRADLEY
Avery Bradley has shot less than 40 percent in each of the four games thus far, but his defense has made him an invaluable part of Boston being tied 2-2 in this series. The other Bradley, Washington’s Bradley Beal, is getting better as the series progresses in doing what he does best -- make shots. Whichever Bradley plays better in Game 5, it’s hard to imagine his team not coming away with the win.
The Wizards are coming to Boston for Game 5 feeling really good; good enough for John Wall to not hesitate in stating that he feels, “like we’re in control.” And then there’s Markieff Morris, who doesn’t want to just win but win convincingly. "Blow them the f--- out. Just keep pressing them,” he said following Washington’s Game 4 win. “Go up by 50 if we can. That's the mindset I feel like all of us had.” At some point, the Celtics have to make it personal and fight back from the jump – not when they spot the Wizards a 15- or 20-point lead. And that time is . . . now!