The Boston Celtics controlled Wednesday’s Game 5 from the jump. They led the Washington Wizards by 12 after the first quarter, by 16 at halftime and by 22 at the end of a 123-101 win at TD Garden.
That doesn’t quite sound like the climate for a halftime screaming match between teammates. But according to Avery Bradley, that’s exactly what happened.
The Celtics guard told MassLive.com’s Jay King after the game that several Boston players were “getting into it” and screaming at each other in the locker room at halftime. According to Bradley, that infighting would have boiled over onto the court in the second half had veteran Al Horford not stepped in.
“Al stopped it like that,” Bradley said while snapping his fingers to drive home his point, according to King.
“He’s very vocal. He’s a guy that helps us all keep our composure. We were kind of falling apart at halftime, and Al kept everyone together and told us that if we continue to play that way in the third quarter, we have a chance to win the game.”
We know what you’re thinking: Why the heck were the Celtics bickering with each other while leading 67-51? Bradley didn’t provide any more details, but Boston has a handful of very passionate players whose desire to win at all costs sometimes comes out in verbal confrontation. Marcus Smart, for example, had an animated beef with rookie Jaylen Brown during a double-digit win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in March.
Heated disagreements aren’t uncommon around the league, either; the Golden State Warriors made headlines for a vicious locker room spat in February 2016, midway through a season in which they won an NBA-record 73 games.
In such cases, it helps to have a veteran to keep the team focused, and it appears the 30-year-old Horford played that role Wednesday night: The C’s outscored the Wizards by one in the third quarter to prevent any comeback and take a 3-2 lead in the second-round NBA playoff series.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images