By: Cristofer Zillo
If I were to say that Monday’s game against the Wizards didn’t feel like a playoff game, I would be lying. Anyone who has watched these two teams play can spot a developing rivalry between two of the Eastern Conference’s best teams. Prior to Monday’s game, the 3 games these two squads played mustered up a grand total of 11 technical fouls and an ejection--not to mention that the two are battling for the conference’s 2nd seed under LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both teams wanted to win, but Boston wasn’t going to let Washington get away with a victory.
When IT4 was introduced in the starting lineups, the Garden breathed a sigh of relief. He hadn’t played the last two games against the Nets and the 76ers due to a bone bruise on his right knee. He’s back, and as always, Thomas was special. He dropped a solid 25 points, four of them coming from a deep energizing pull-up transition 2 and a tip-in layup over two big men, which was posted on various NBA-related social media accounts. Avery Bradley came up big too. He almost logged a double-double after pouring in 20 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. Speaking of boards, the Celtics recorded a season-high 54 rebounds, 20 of them coming at the offensive end. The game was pretty competitive for about a quarter, then a few threes put the Celtics up by 11 at half-time. After that, it was pretty much over; the lead increased to 20 at one point, and any run made by the Wizards was countered by a run by the Celtics. The boys did get a bit lazy at the end of the game, letting Washington get within 10, but multiple stops on the defensive end solidified the victory and booked funeral arrangements for John Wall and the Wizards. If I had to pick what killed the Wiz on the court, it would be those offensive boards, but the crowd definitely got into Washington’s heads.
Like I said before, I could’ve sworn this was a playoff game. The booing directed at Washington’s All-Star caliber point-guard John Wall was deafening, but nothing was louder than the chants of “Bull-Sh*t, Bull-Sh*t, Bull-Sh*t” after a double technical was called on Terry Rozier and Brandon Jennings after their altercation at half court. The Grim Reaper even made an appearance, forcing some Wizards players to miss at the charity strike. Play after play ignited the Boston crowd, whether it was the half court lob to Amir Johnson or Marcus Smart’s game-saving strip and steal near the end of the game.
Needless to say, Celtics fans are ready for a deep run in the playoffs, which is completely within the team’s grasp. Obviously, strong rebounding, gritty defense and healthy players will be key for this year’s postseason, especially if the Celtics want to destroy LeBron’s streak for consecutive finals appearances. We all know that if anyone has the best chance of beating the Warriors, it’s the boys in green.