Last week, John Wall said getting the No. 2 seed isn’t a priority for the Wizards as much as not falling lower than a No. 3 seed.
That’s a good thing because they’re now firmly planted in that spot after they lost for the fourth time in five games Monday in a 110-102 blowout to the Boston Celtics.
Both teams won on their home floor to make the season series 2-2 so the next tiebreaker that applies, if needed to determine seeding should both teams end with the same record, would be conference record. Boston is 29-13 in the East while Washington is 26-18.
The Celtics (45-26) stretched a 32-30 lead after the first quarter to 11 at halftime and then 92-75 entering the fourth to effectively put it away early at TD Garden.
Avery Bradley (20 points, nine rebounds) was unstoppable as he made 4 of 8 three-pointers while Isaiah Thomas (25 points) played second fiddle for much of the night. Thomas had 12 points in the pivotal third quarter when the Celtics outscored them 34-28.
Jae Crowder (16 points, nine rebounds) and Al Horford (16 points, nine rebounds) rounded out the domination.
The Wizards (42-28) were led by Bradley Beal (19 points) but he disappeared after scoring 15 in the first half. John Wall (16 points, eight assists) didn’t get a double-double for the second game in a row. Bojan Bogdanovic (14 points) and Jason Smith (13 points, five rebounds) were the best performers off the bench along with Brandon Jennings (10 points, seven assists).
Now the focus for the Wizards, who play at home vs. the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets, is keeping the No. 4 seed Toronto Raptors (41-29) at bay. The Raptors won the season series with Washington, 2-1, which gives them the first tiebreaker for seeding.
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--Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller and Amir Johnson, role players who didn’t factor much into the last meeting, who did a lot of damage to help Boston take a 31-16 edge in first-half rebounding. Twelve of them were offensive. The trio had 14 of those total rebounds. Olynyk (nine points, 11 rebounds) had the most production though most of what Zeller (four points, three rebounds) and Johnson (four points, three rebounds) didn’t appear in the boxscore. When it was over, the Celtics set a season-high with 20 offensive rebounds.
--Otto Porter (eight points) set his career-high with 34 points in the first meeting with Boston this season, but he no longer gets the free pass he got then. Porter had difficulty with the physical nature of the game when being bodied by Crowder and shot 4-for-8 from the field.
--Gortat picked up his third foul at 4:33 of the second quarter, just after he re-entered the game, on a cheap one. It was when Boston was in the midst of a 14-5 run and why he only played 12 minutes. When the Celtics pulled away in the third quarter, Gortat (four points, four rebounds) hesitated twice and didn’t contest Thomas on threes. He had ample time to close the distance and make him shoot over the 6-11 frame. Gortat would’ve been better off giving up the drive for the two – and rely on the help behind him to rotate to Thomas – than allowing a near-40% three-point shooter to have clean looks. When the Wizards blew them out in the last meeting, they established Gortat in the low post and went to him in isolations vs. Horford on the first two possessions. He began the game 6-for-6. This was different as he shot 6-for-11.
--Wall was holding the ball for the final shot of the first half and didn’t account for Johnson who poked the ball free from behind. The Wizards lost possession and Wall tried to make up for it by gambling for a steal. Instead he drew a foul that sent Thomas to the line for two free throws.
--Thomas earned the game’s first technical foul when he was complaining about a no-call on a drive in the first quarter. But the first real skirmish took place between Jennings and Terry Rozier. Jennings was in his face and trying to bait him after making a jumper. They tangled at halfcourt with Jennings being shoved to the floor. The outcome was offsetting double technical.
--The second unit of Jennings, Tomas Satoransky, Kelly Oubre, Bogdanovic and Smith did well to get the deficit down to 96-86 with 6:44 left. Smith had a three to get it to less than 10 but fouled out soon after that. The Celtics quickly pushed their lead back to double digits because of two offensive rebound putbacks by Olynyk and Horford, 104-91.