Final: Wizards 105, Celtics 96. Even a barrage of late jumpers from Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels isn't nearly enough. The Celtics aren't going home happy tonight.
What can you say? The C's just didn't look like they came to play. Poor shooting, defensive laziness and a general sense of apathy on both ends of the floor — yeah, you'll lose to any team in the NBA when you play like that. Even the Wizards, apparently.
Andray Blatche finishes with 31 points and 11 rebounds, the guards Shaun Livingston and Nick Young add 25 and 19 respectively, and the Wizards waltz away with a victory at the TD Garden.
Eight days, Celtics. The playoffs start in eight days.
Fourth quarter, 3:01, Wizards 88-76: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a Marquis Daniels sighting.
With 3:01 left in the game, Daniels scores for the first time this week, driving to the basket for an inside bucket.
Why can't he show this kind of effort when it matters?
Perplexing, isn't it?
The Celtics are within 12 points for the first time in a while, but they don't look like they want this one. Looks like Doc Rivers is leaving his garbage time guys out there to finish this game.
Fourth quarter, 6:10, Wizards 80-66: The rest of the team has basically checked out, but Rajon Rondo is the one guy alive and kicking for the Celtics.
He's got seven of Boston's last nine points. He's been aggressive, relentless, passionate in a game where passion is a little tricky to come by.
You've got to respect a guy who gives this kind of effort. Even if the Celtics look dead in the water.
Fourth quarter, 8:57, Wizards 78-60: It's more than a little disconcerting to see Rasheed Wallace, just because he hit a jumper to cut the lead to 18, prance down the floor like he owns the place.
That can be a problem sometimes with these Celtics — they take one little baby step forward, they get complacent, they stop working hard. You see it over the course of a game, a month, an entire season.
All that talk about "consistency" is clichéd for a reason. The C's need consistent effort to win ballgames — not just tonight, but every time out. All too often, they fail to bring it.
End of third quarter, Wizards 75-54: Remember the Washington game last month, when the C's were down 66-62 at the end of the third quarter and everyone thought it was the end of the world?
This is far, far worse. At least in that game, you had a sense that the C's were constantly nipping at the Wizards' heels, ready to get back in the game.
Tonight? No such sense. When your crowd gets this excited about only being down 19, 21, 23, whatever … you know that's not a good sign. The Celtics have no confidence they can claw their way back in this one. They threw in the towel a long time ago.
Third quarter, 3:12, Wizards 71-44: A month ago, the Celtics had no clue who Andray Blatche was. They've got a pretty good idea now.
Blatche now has 23 points on 11-of-20 shooting, six rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal. Just an insane game for the Wizards' 23-year-old Washington big man.
Maybe all that trash talk last time out wasn't totally unfounded? The kid's got some game.
Third quarter, 5:54, Wizards 64-39: Give Paul Pierce some credit. He looks like the one guy who still cares about this game.
The Celtics' captain is still showing the same emotion he always does on every possession — he's pumped up when the C's hit a shot, he's ticked off when they make a mistake, he's livid when they don't get a call.
That's the kind of leader the Celtics need in the playoffs — a guy who never stops caring. In Pierce, they've got it.
Unfortunately, they've also got a 2-for-9 shooting night and a bunch of ugly, careless mistakes. Take the bad with the good, I guess.
Third quarter, 9:07, Wizards 56-37: At this point, the Wizards just look cocky. That shouldn't happen — especially not in the Celtics' building.
Watch them pass up effortless layups inside to kick it out to the perimeter for long jumpers. Those aren't percentage plays; in a close game, Flip Saunders would be chastising them for taking bad shots like that. But in a game like this, they're getting away with it.
Neither team is playing like the outcome of this game is in doubt. Smart team basketball has become an afterthought, a completely irrelevant, hypothetical, mythical idea. The Wizards — of all people, the Wizards! — are just toying with the Celtics.
Halftime, Wizards 52-31: You know you're in bad shape when your fans get hysterically happy about a basket that leaves you only down 21. To the Wizards. Before halftime.
It happens twice, actually — Paul Pierce makes a big 3 at the 2:41 mark, and Ray Allen knocks down one of his own with about 57 seconds left in the half. Both shots bring the Celtics to within 21.
And both times, the Wizards just keep on keeping on. They're not lacking confidence in the least — on the contrary, the Wizards look poised to finish this thing off. The Celtics just look asleep.
Second quarter, 3:08, Wizards 47-23: This can't be happening. These are the Bizarro Celtics. There's no other explanation.
How can you explain the absurdly poor level of the C's play tonight? What can you make of Andray Blatche being left wide open — no one within 10 feet of him — for a jumper in the final seconds of the shot clock? Of Paul Pierce forgetting how to dribble? Of Kendrick Perkins just saying, "Screw it, I won't bother," and letting the Wiz get layups at will?
The Celtics look to be a strange mix of infuriated and disillusioned. Watch them during timeouts — half are angrily fuming, the other half just look too numb to care.
Second quarter, 6:06, Wizards 40-19: Mike Miller is a scrawny little 2-guard. Rasheed Wallace is a 6-foot-11 beast. What's wrong with this picture?
Watching Miller cruise through the lane and drop an easy layup over a guy like Sheed must be pretty infuriating if you're Doc Rivers. The Celtics' complete lack of effort on the defensive end is just baffling. News flash: Playoff basketball starts in just eight days.
Washington is now on a 20-2 run. The word "stop" is no longer in the Celtics' vocabulary. This is just shocking.
Second quarter, 9:06, Wizards 34-17: Seriously, now — what's going on?
Things have just gotten worse for the C's in the first three minutes of the second quarter. The Wizards are now on a 14-0 run, and the C's are getting lit up by Washington's guard tandem of Shaun Livingston and Nick Young.
The fans at the TD Garden are none too happy. Usually they wait 'til halftime, at the very earliest, to boo their guys off the floor. Tonight, not so much.
End of first quarter, Wizards 30-17: What an ugly first quarter for Boston. Andray Blatche is making the Celtics' second unit look absolutely silly. That shouldn't happen.
Without Perkins and Garnett on the floor, the C's look just look awful defensively in the post. Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis just look totally apathetic on the defensive end.
Doc Rivers will have a decision to make in these final four games — leave the rotation the way it is, or tighten things up to give Perk and KG some more minutes? The latter choice would do a lot to improve this team defensively.
First quarter, 3:10, Wizards 18-15: This whole week, the Celtics have given off a vibe that this week means nothing, that they'd rather coast into the playoffs than give it their all in early April.
Nothing we've seen tonight suggests any differently. The C's still look lazy and passive a lot of the time — settling for jumpers, not bothering to box out for rebounds, showing the occasional lapse on defense.
Maybe they're just saving it for the postseason. And maybe that's not such a bad thing — if the C's end up in the NBA Finals, no one will remember how they played on April 9 against Washington. Then again, it sure would be nice to see this team even a little fired up. After all, every game counts.
First quarter, 6:01, Wizards 13-12: When these two teams met up last month, we saw that Andray Blatche wasn't afraid to stand up to Kevin Garnett and push him around. Apparently, that hasn't changed.
Last time, that was probably a bad thing for the Wizards. Blatche got cocky and he got right in KG's face — all KG did was get fired up and torch the Wizards down the stretch in a comeback win.
This time? Well, Blatche is being smart about it. No trash talk, nothing outlandish, just aggressive basketball, posting KG up and scoring over him. He's a confident player, and it's showing. The Wiz now cling to a one-point lead.
First quarter, 9:13, Celtics 8-5: Don't look now, but Kevin Garnett's getting his low-post game back.
The Celtics get most of their offense from Ray Allen in the opening minutes, but KG's now starting to come to life, going inside and butting heads with Andray Blatche.
It's a good sign for Boston — the C's are going to need the aggressive KG in the playoffs, not the passive old man that's way too quick to settle for jump shots. Looks like the good KG showed up tonight. Let's see if he sticks around.
8 a.m.: Seventy-eight games down, four more to go. As April presses on, we get closer and closer to the end of the regular season and the start of playoff basketball. And we keep looking for hints as to whether this team is ready.
Will Rajon Rondo step up and take his game to the next level when it matters most? Do the old guys in leadership roles still have enough left in the tank for the NBA's second season? Will the bench be a strong, cohesive unit in big must-win games?
All these questions, only four games left to look for answers. On Friday night, the Celtics will test their playoff mettle, but they'll do it against a Washington team that's more concerned with the draft lottery than the postseason.
The C's are already 3-0 against the visiting Wizards this season. They're going for the season sweep, but more importantly, they're gearing up for what lies ahead.