As a lot because the Celtics have preached and largely practiced a constant, targeted mindset this season, they’ve run into one thing of a wall during the last two weeks. The All-Star break is across the nook, and at occasions, they’ve regarded prepared for it.
The theme continued Friday. Facing one of many worst groups within the NBA, the Celtics needed to struggle off some boredom towards the lowly Wizards. They performed one among their worst first halves of the season and located themselves down by seven after stretches of lazy, uninspired basketball. They had been getting torched in transition and regarded like they had been going by means of the motions.
On the sidelines, Joe Mazzulla was clearly annoyed and publicly expressed it. But no matter he stated at halftime, the Celtics responded.
Maybe water simply discovered its degree, perhaps the Celtics simply let their expertise prevail or perhaps they simply awakened. Whatever the case, a dominant third quarter in the end pushed them to the end line in a 133-129 victory over the nine-win Wizards.
Kristaps Porzingis had one other monster efficiency with 34 factors as he as soon as once more dominated mismatches, Jayson Tatum had 35 factors, 10 rebounds and eight assists and Jrue Holiday had 20 factors because the C’s lastly received it collectively within the second half, the place they took a 15-point lead and needed to maintain off a late Wizards rally.
The Celtics definitely didn’t play their finest basketball over a two-week, seven-game homestand however nonetheless completed the stretch with a 5-2 report.
The C’s produced a nasty defensive effort within the first half because the Wizards torched them in transition. They gave up 71 factors, together with 19 from Jordan Poole within the first half, as they allowed 4 3-pointers over the ultimate 90 seconds going into halftime.
But they got here out within the third quarter just like the crew they’re purported to be. They raised their effort defensively, and after a 4-for-22 begin from 3-point land and several other missed layups, the photographs lastly began falling, and the Celtics took benefit of being within the penalty with Porzingis. The Celtics led by one with 4 minutes remaining within the interval earlier than happening a 16-4 run to finish the interval, with all however two of these factors scored by Porzingis and Horford. After giving up 71 factors within the first half, the C’s allowed simply 16 factors within the third, they usually led by as many as 15 early within the fourth.
The Celtics led by 14 with 2:27 remaining earlier than the Wizards, led by Corey Kispert, fought again to chop their deficit to 4 within the last minute, however the C’s had sufficient to carry on.
Other takeaways from the win:
– The Celtics rank among the many finest groups within the league in limiting fast-break factors to opponents, getting into the evening permitting simply 13.6 transition factors per recreation. But a mixture of missed 3-pointers and misses on the rim led to a number of Wizards run-outs within the first half, and the Celtics had problem stopping them in transition. They allowed 18 fast-break factors within the first quarter and had been torched for 26 by halftime.
– Count Payton Pritchard amongst those that don’t care about their capturing share taking a dip with desperation, end-of-quarter heaves. He was rewarded on the first-quarter buzzer, when he threw up a shot from past half-court that banked in. There was a little bit of irony to the make as a result of the Celtics struggled mightily from 3-point vary. They began 2-for-12 from deep and had been 4-for-22 from downtown early within the third.
Pritchard, unbelievably, virtually had one other one to finish the third quarter after he sank a working half-court shot on the buzzer, however it was dominated simply late.
– The Celtics routinely hunted mismatches towards Jordan Poole, and the method was profitable all through the evening as they scored with ease on him. Porzingis was the best beneficiary as he had a transparent benefit on Poole and several other different Wizards defenders as he received to the free throw line a season-high 14 occasions and made all of them. The Celtics went 26-for-28 from the road.