BOSTON — Everything the Wizards wanted to avoid to begin Game 5 at TD Garden – turnovers, uncontested shots allowed and an inability to hit their own – took place Wednesday. As a result, they trail the semifinals with the Boston Celtics 3-2 after a 123-101 defeat.
After going up 4-0, the Wizards fell apart as the Celtics hit them with a 16-0 run and led by as many as 22 in the first half. Avery Bradley (29 points) was the engine as Isaiah Thomas (18 points, nine assists) was blanketed and taken out of the offense again.
The Celtics, however, didn't need Thomas the way they relied on him for 53 points in a comeback in overtime to win Game 2 here where the Wizards haven't won since the regular-season finale in 2014.
Jae Crowder (18 points, eight rebounds), Al Horford (19 points, seven assists) and Amir Johnson (eight points, five rebounds) also had good games.
John Wall (21 points), who rebounded in Game 4 after opening 0-for-9 shooting, began 1-for-7 as the Wizards allowed 58% shooting while having an accuracy rate that was 20% less from the field.
Markieff Morris (nine points) wasn’t much of a factor, airballing an open three-point shot, and Otto Porter (13 points) and Marcin Gortat (seven points, 11 rebounds) didn’t do much to help.
The Wizards’ transition defense evaporated as Boston had a 19-14 edge in fast-break points by halftime alone, unable to stop the leakouts for layups and dunks.
While they stuck to Thomas and prevented him from dominating by coming extra bodies to clog the paint, that’s almost all that went right as the Wizards go back to Verizon Center for Game 6 on Friday in hopes of forcing a Game 7 back at TD on Monday.
--The Wizards continued to bottle up Thomas on the perimeter and feed him to the bigs in the middle. Through three quarters he’d only attempted seven shots for 10 points but his teammates made their shots on the extra pass off the Wizards’ scheme. When Horford shot 8-for-9 and even Johnson got into the act with chip shots at the rim going 4-for-5.
--The pronounced size advantage was absent on the boards. After being plus-26 in the previous two wins, the Wizards didn’t create any separation this area as the margin was 48-45 in favor of the Celtics.
--Horford was the rim protection that Boston had lacked all series. In the first half alone he had three blocks at the rim, denying Wall twice on drives to the basket for what appeared to be layups. They still aggressively trapped Beal with the ball and the shooters weren’t able to make them pay for it. The Wizards shot 7-for-29 on threes.
-- In Kelly Oubre’s return from a one-game suspension for his part in a Game 3 altercation with Kelly Olynyk, he went from being greeted with boos to a four-letter chant late in the third and quarters. Oubre (13 points, three rebounds) was the lone bright spot for the Wizards before the score got out of hand.
--The matchup problem that is Morris has put the Celtics in scramble mode. Horford, who has been crossmatched against him a lot this series, helped make him uncomfortable to the point that Morris shot a brick on a wide-open mid-range shot. When Morris had the undersized Crowder posted, Horford aggressively ran out to force him into a turnover that led to a transition three-pointer.
--Marcus Smart (nine points) ran less of the offense for the Celtics, which was a good thing for them. His turnover-prone ball-handling was alleviated as Terry Rozier (five points) had a greater role. Smart focused on the defensive end and knocked down a pair of spot-up threes in the fourth.
--With 25 of his points in the first half, Bradley set a career playoff-high.