A season that was always going to be painful closes with a defeat, as the Washington Wizards run away from the Boston Celtics. The Celtics (25-57) finish the season losing 11 of their final 13 games.
The playoff-bound Wizards (44-38) earn themselves a first-round date with the Chicago Bulls.
Kelly Olynyk led the Celtics with 24 points, marking his third straight game with 20-plus points. Phil Pressey handed out 10 assists and Jeff Green dropped 20 points in the finale.
Bradley Beal piled up 27 points to lead all scorers.
Fourth quarter, 5:38, Wizards 108-88: You know all that nice stuff we just wrote about the fans? Scratch that. They’re now doing the wave. Just when you thought this season couldn’t get any worse …
Fourth quarter, 8:27, Wizards 97-79: Give these fans credit for their passion, because even as their team crawls to the end of a forgettable season, they’re still here and cheering. The Celtics’ deficit grows to 20 as Pressey misses two threes — one of which was an airball — on one possession.
Trevor Booker has 20 points now for D.C. So there’s that.
End of third quarter, Wizards 91-75: An extremely short bench has led Stevens to use some interesting lineup combinations. And by “interesting” we mean, “huh?”
Boston ends the third quarter with Bradley, Pressey, Babb, Anthony and Johnson on the floor. They also end it with a 16-point deficit and six Washington players in double figures in scoring.
Third quarter, 5:53, Wizards 76-70: We can’t entirely blame them, but the Wizards seem to be playing at half-speed. They must figure they can turn it on should the Celtics start to really threaten.
If so, they might want to get to it. The Celtics just keep hanging around, with Pressey continuing to do some laudable playmaking. The rook has eight assists, although he has missed all three shots he’s taken and has four turnovers.
Third quarter, 10:38, Wizards 68-62: Boom. Like that, it’s down to a two-possession game.
A 6-0 Boston run to open the second half ends with a breakaway layup by Olynyk and a quick timeout by Washington coach Randy Wittman. The last thing the Wizards need to do here is give the Celtics something to play for.
Halftime, Wizards 68-56: While Bradley keeps gunning away, now at 5-for-15 and counting, the Celtics are actually getting some solid contributions from other players.
Phil Pressey has shown off his passing skills with a fancy between-the-legs dish to Bass for a dunk. Bass is 5-for-6 — his only miss was a corner three — for 11 points and Green has 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting.
When Bradley’s not firing, Pressey is capably leading the offense, with six assists. And Chris Johnson has 10 points to go along with his usual all-out hustle that doesn’t show up in the box score.
But it’s a rough night at the defensive end for the Celtics, and while Pressey’s size disadvantage is an issue, Bradley can’t be left off the hook there. Beal and Wall each has 13 points, while Beal has two steals and Wall has six assists. The Wiz are shooting 62 percent from the field and have a 34-20 advantage in points in the paint thanks to their guards’ dribble penetration.
Second quarter, 2:55, Wizards 63-51: Anthony hasn’t gotten a whole lot of burn all season long, but he’s making up for it tonight. He’s logged 12 minutes so far as the Celtics limp to the finish with a limited roster.
To Anthony’s credit, he’s done some solid things in those minutes. He has played serviceable defense and hit a turnaround hook shot in the paint.
Second quarter, 5:19, Wizards 58-48: OK, we understand 77-year-old point guard Andre Miller isn’t a good shooter, but you can’t just not defend him altogether.
Sagging waaaay off the veteran at the defensive end, Phil Pressey watched Miller calmly toss a lob over the top to Trevor Booker for a tip-in layup. Johnson and Joel Anthony continue to up the hustle level, but regular old execution counts for something, too.
Second quarter, 10:08, Wizards 40-35: Chris Johnson would be helpful if he would only play hard. Instead, he only plays really hard.
Already in this quarter, Johnson has picked off a pass to start a fast break and stolen an inbounds that he immediately turned into a 3-pointer. Suddenly, the Celtics are back in it.
End of first quarter, Wizards 38-24: The first 12 minutes of the last 48 minutes of the Celtics’ 82-game season went about the same way this entire campaign has gone.
The opponent couldn’t miss, the Celtics couldn’t hit a shot and Chris Johnson hustled his butt off.
The Wizards shot 67 percent in that first quarter, while the Celtics were an unsightly 33 percent from the field. Avery Bradley himself took 10 of Boston’s 24 shots. Bass is still the only Celtics player consistently putting the ball in the hoop, going 4-for-4.
Wall is having a field day, though. He has hit six of his eight shots and has a relatively easy 13 points, five assists and zero turnovers in the early going.
There were a couple of cool moments during stoppages, too. A replay of President Obama’s speech at the Boston Marathon memorial service brought everyone at TD Garden to their feet, as did a moment with marathon survivors coming out to midcourt.
First quarter, 6:14, Wizards 21-12: Fresh off receiving the Red Auerbach Award — well-deserved, by the way — Brandon Bass hit his first two shots to help the Celtics get going. The rest of the squad hasn’t exactly joined in.
Celtics players not named Bass are 1-for-9 from the field as the Wizards have sprinted to a double-digit lead out of the gate. John Wall and Bradley Beal hit their first five shots combined and Washington is shooting 10-for-15 as a team.
This could be a long night for the green team.
7:17 p.m.: Rondo isn’t playing tonight, but he will honor Boston Marathon victims in his own way. The Celtics point guard is rocking Anta sneakers with the initials of marathon victims and the date “41513″ on an imitation of the marathon smock.
Check it out below.
Rondo's marathon kicks. http://t.co/SUxK0BqKFR—
Ben Watanabe (@BenjeeBallgame) April 16, 2014
5:59 p.m.: So, they’re all out.
Rajon Rondo (sore L hamstring), Sullinger (sore L ankle), Bayless (sore R knee) and Humphries (sore R knee) all will not play tonight.—
Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 16, 2014
5:03 p.m.: Before the lights go out on the Celtics’ 2014-15 season, the organization has a lot of things on its plate.
The Celtics will honor their fans with a multitude of video tributes, on-court performances and giveaways as part of fan appreciation night. Jared Sullinger is scheduled to thank fans for filling TD Garden to an average of 97 percent capacity all season, and one lucky player will receive the Red Auerbach award.
Perhaps even more importantly, the Celtics will be playing on the one-year anniversary of one of their games being cancelled after last year’s Boston Marathon bombings, making the game another reminder of the way sports has helped the city heal.
“We definitely want to get the win for the city and contribute to the city of Boston,” Celtics forward Brandon Bass said. “But also, it wouldn’t be bad to end on a good note, you know? We’ve definitely got a lot to play for.”
As for who actually plays, much remains to be seen. Rajon Rondo played Monday in Philadelphia but would not say whether he would be in uniform for the season finale. We will bring you Jerryd Bayless, Kris Humphries and Jared Sullinger’s status after Brad Stevens provides an update.
8 a.m. ET: Thanks to their late-season two-game winning streak, the Boston Celtics guaranteed that they would not surpass their 2006-07 version for the most losses in franchise history.
Still, they will be mighty close.
The Celtics (25-56) will try to disregard any of that when they welcome the Washington Wizards (43-38) on Wednesday. The Wizards have a lot to play for, since they are battling with Charlotte for the No. 6 seed, hoping to avoid Miami or Indiana in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Of course, the Celtics have something to play for, too. This game marks the one-year anniversary of a game being cancelled last season as a result of the Boston Marathon bombings. Rajon Rondo and company are aware of the day’s meaning and hope to do their fans proud.
Before tip-off the team will also honor its fans with a pregame tribute and will name the recipient of the Red Auerbach award, which recognizes the player who best exemplifies Celtics spirit through his actions on the court and off.
Join us for updates and analysis from TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 8 p.m.