Everything that had gone on between the Wizards and Celtics through nearly two years of animosity and two previous playoff games that featured knocked out teeth and a gruesome bloody nose, all of it came to a head in Game 3 of their series on Thursday night at the Verizon Center.
Early in the second quarter of the Wizards' blowout win, Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk caught Wizards forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. with a blindside screen. Oubre fell to the ground and earned an offensive foul call, but that wasn't enough. Oubre immediately rose to his feet, charged Olynyk and threw all seven feet and 240 pounds of him to the ground.
Referee Monty McCutchen sensed the spark from Oubre before he came back for more and tried to stand in between the two giants, but he was no match for a 6-foot-7 Oubre, who trucked Olynyk to the floor like Sean Taylor used to drop slot receivers.
For the soldout crowd at the Verizon Center, it was a thrilling moment in a series that has already lived up to all the rivalry hype that preceded it. They even chanted Oubre's name.
But ultimately it was a very poor decision by a young player still finding his way in the league. Oubre was ejected for a flagrant-2 foul and now faces a potential suspension, depending on a league review. And he's lucky it didn't prove more costly in a game the Wizards won easily.
Oubre didn't talk after the game, but many of his teammates did. Bradley Beal approached Oubre during why the officials reviewed the replay right after the incident and before they ejected him. Beal shared that conversation afterwards.
"I was encouraging him. In a situation like that, you've just gotta be smart," Beal said. "You got the call. As much as it may frustrate you, you just continue to do what you're doing. At that point in the game, that's what they wanted it to be. They wanted it to be physical and let it get out of hand a little bit. We were up 20 or whatever it was. They were kind of playing angry. They were fouling and setting moving screens. That's going to happen throughout the course of the game. I just told him: 'we need you. You're one of our best defenders. You're constantly getting better. You're a threat on the floor and we need you. Just make sure that moving forward you are smart about it. If somebody hits you, just move on. Just continue to play smart.'"
Head coach Scott Brooks did not excuse what Oubre did, but was understanding of the frustration.
"I think we've got to control our emotions. We can't respond that way," he said. "But when you keep getting hit in the head, you might respond that way and I think that's what he did. I'm not saying that that was the right thing to do. We have to focus on playing basketball."
From the Celtics' vantage point, the whole incident was Oubre's fault. Al Horford said "there was no such thing as the two Kellys – Kelly Olynyk stayed back."
Olynyk answered succintly for each question, saying simply "I set a screen" and "I didn't expect it."
Since the Wizards completely obliterated the Celtics, they were able to laugh a bit at what Oubre did. He lost his temper and needs to learn from his mistake, but it was still an entertaining moment, even for his teammates.
Beal, for one, wasn't quite familiar with that side of Oubre and did not expect it to come out against Olynyk of all people.
"I thought they was cool. That's what threw me off," Beal said. "It really takes K.O. a lot to go off. I always see them shake hands. Like, before the game they would shake hands and talk a little bit."
On what was going through his mind when he saw Oubre get up:
"It was pretty much you weren't stopping him. You weren't stopping him. I knew exactly where he was going," Beal said.
Like Beal, Markieff Morris had some words for Oubre. The ones he shared with the media drew laughs.
"I told him they were going to throw him out 'so might as well leave now,'" Morris said.
It was shocking in the moment, yet funny afterwards. But now the Wizards and Oubre wait to hear his fate.