In Game 3, it was a 22-0 run that sealed the Boston Celtics’ fate in the first quarter. Sunday, it was 26-0 run in the third quarter of Game 4 as the Wizards drew even in the East semifinals the moment John Wall came alive.
Wall (27 points, 12 assists, five steals) missed his first nine shots before he caught fire to score 12 of their final 18 points before halftime to erase a 12-point deficit and inspire another surge in a 121-102 victory in Game 4. The series is tied 2-2 with the pivotal Game 5 at TD Garden on Wednesday.
Otto Porter (18 points, eight rebounds, four steals) was the early offense for Washington as he scored 10 of his points in the first quarter. Bradley Beal (29 points) started slow but began to find his shot and Markieff Morris (16 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals) continued to be a matchup nightmare for Boston.
The Wizards’ defense suffocated Isaiah Thomas (19 points, six turnovers) after a hot start in which he made all three of this three-pointers in the first quarter. But they kept him away from the rim and forced others to make shots and for the second game in a row the Celtics failed.
Jae Crowder (six points) shot just 2-for-9, Avery Bradley (five points) was 2-for-9 and Marcus Smart (nine points) shot 2-for-7.
The score was tied 48-48 at halftime and Amir Johnson (seven points) had a personal 5-0 burst to put the Celtics on top. Then for the next 6:30, the Celtics went without a point as the Wizards blew the game open by forcing nine turnovers – five by Thomas -- and just 5-for-16 shooting.
Three of the Wizards starters, Wall, Beal and Morris, scored in double figures in the third quarter alone, accounting for 34 of their 42 points.
The Wizards are 5-0 at home in the playoffs.
--After an offensive foul on Kelly Olynyk (14 points), chants of “Kelly Oubre” took over the arena. It was Oubre’s confrontation in Game 3 that led to his ejection and receiving a one-game suspension. Oubre will be back for Game 5.
--Thomas was used as a screener to get Crowder and Johnson uncontested layups. That’s how they got out to an early lead as the Wizards were so concerned with jumping the return pass to the guard that they forgot about the big slipping to the rim. But the ball pressure eventually caused Thomas to break. Marcin Gortat (six points, seven rebounds) was key in staying big in the middle and making the 5-foot-9 point guard finish over size. And the officials didn’t reward Thomas with whistles for jumping into bigs to get whistles. Thomas didn’t attempt a foul shot.
--The Wizards’ biggest edge statistically has been with rebounding. They were 38-38 in a Game 1 loss, had just a 44-41 edge in a Game 2 loss but were 50-38 in a Game 3 win. They were 45-31 in their second win in a row Sunday.
--Johnson was back in the starting lineup for Boston while Gerald Green, who started Game 3, didn’t play until the score was lopsided and coach Brad Stevens was desperate for answers. Johnson was a liability whether it was on the offensive end or trying to be the help big switching onto Wall on the pick-and-roll. It’s the biggest trouble spot for Boston, because of they go to three guards with Green or Smart they’re too small vs. Morris and he’s good enough defensively to stay in front of them away from the rim. If they go with Johnson, Morris can take him from the rim, face him up and beat him to his spots or get his in the post. Against Smart, he’ll post and get easy looks.
--Morris is unaccounted for when he pops to the arc for three-point looks. The Celtics kept giving him the looks and if he’s able to knock them down, they’re going to have trouble winning. Morris was just 2-for-4 but that’s good enough. Because they’re undersized in the middle, Boston commits bodies to contend with Gortat in the middle. They picked their poison, just as the Wizards have done with taking away Thomas and forcing other shooters to beat them.
--Thomas picked up a technical foul at 6:38 of the fourth quarter after being called for a foul on Beal. It was the only one of the game after the teams combined for eight in Game 3.
--Tomas Satoransky (five points) got the call with Oubre out to defend Thomas and did a credible job denying him the ball. He also made his only shot. Bojan Bogdanovic (13 points) had his second strong performance in a rowas he led the reserves. Ian Mahinmi (three assists) didn’t score but found cutters under the basket for layups. He played 13 minutes, three more than he did in Game 3 as he works his way back from a left calf strain.