The Clover Report: Week 29
If this playoffs have taught me anything, it’s that the 2017 Boston Celtics are one streaky ass team. After shockingly losing the first two games at home to the 8th seeded Bulls, the Celtics proceeded to win the next 6 games of the playoffs. They looked like they were on a roll, until they went to Washington. Let’s recap games 3, 4, and 5.
Now it’s no secret that the Celtics have struggled in Washington this year. Even knowing that, what happened in games 3 and 4 was pretty mind-numbing. Like in games 1 and 2, the Wizards once again got out to a hot start and even went on a ridiculous 22-0 run in the 1st quarter. They led 39-17 after the first and didn’t let the Celtics back in the game this time as they won 116—89. Every starting Wizard scored double digits which were led by John Wall’s 24 points. Marcin Gortat had a huge game as well as he scored 13 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. Then of course we have the Kelly Olynyk/Kelly Oubre Jr. beef in which Oubre Jr. knocked down Olynyk and was tossed from the game. So while the Celtics got punched in the mouth, game 3 is usually a “scheduled” loss for a team up 2-0 in a series. So if the Celtics bounced back and take game 4, they would still be in great shape (considering that Oubre Jr. was also suspended) but that didn’t happen.
Things did start off better for Boston in game 4 as they finally led after the 1st quarter 24-20. Isaiah Thomas came out firing as he hit 5 3s in the first half and the game was tied at halftime. However once the 3rd quarter started, shit hit the fan. If you thought a 22-0 run was nuts, that wasn’t even the biggest run in the series. The Wizards went on a 26-0 run in the 3rd and pulled away to win 121—102 to even the series. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. were the standouts as Beal scored a game high 29 points while Porter chipped in 18 while shooting 7-9 from the floor. So as a Celtics fan, this is my biggest fear about playing the Washington Wizards. When things go bad they tend to fold, but when they get hot they’re almost impossible to stop. But that’s still no excuse for allowing runs like that and that blame belongs to the coach. Brad Stevens only called one timeout throughout that run. ONE! Why would you try to save them when you’re getting your ass handed to you? It’s puzzling to say the least.
With the series tied at 2 apiece, the importance of game 5 could not be understated. With the TD Garden rocking, it was the Celtics who came out with the first punch. The Celtics went on a 16-0 in the 1st quarter, won all 4 quarters, and won the game 123—101. This was the Celtics most complete and best overall game this postseason. They led for 99% of the game and dished out an amazing 33 assists. The best part was is that everyone made a contribution. Avery Bradley was the standout as he scored 25 points in the first half alone. He led all scorers with 29 total. Al Horford had a bounce back game as he scored 19 points and dished out 7 assists. Even rookie Jaylen Brown made an impact. While he did not score, he played 26 minutes off the bench and made countless hustle and defensive plays. That’s not something you don’t see a lot of 20 year olds doing.
Now even with the Celtics leading 3-2, I am not too confident with the series being over. Clearly this is one of those series that home court means a lot more than it usually does and I think that will follow suit in game 6. The Celtics have had too many problems in Washington and I don’t see them making a turnaround their despite their play in game 5. So if it goes to game 7, we’re in for a hell of a show. The Celtics can’t keep falling behind the Wizards because it’s going to get harder for them to keep playing catchup. The series is the Celtics’ to lose now, so hopefully they’ll grab it by the throat and not let go.
Written By: Steve Santoro (SVS_1993)