BOSTON — The Celtics went to a seldom-used strategy to stifle the Washington Wizards in Game 5 of their second-round NBA playoff series Wednesday night at TD Garden.
Boston used a 5-1 pick-and-roll, meaning Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas would set a screen for center Al Horford with the hopes of giving the big man an open look from 17 or so feet.
The roles usually are reversed.
The plan worked very well, as Horford started out 5-for-5 from the field and finished with 19 points in just 28 minutes. It also helped that the Wizards went under the screens so often, which gave Horford a good look at the basket.
“Credit to Isaiah,” Horford said. “Actually, I was talking to (assistant coach Jay) Larranaga before the game and he said ‘Isaiah might come over and set a screen for you.’ I’ve never done that before. He did it, he set a great screen and I scored a couple of times. It was nice for a change.”
When asked about the 5-1 pick-and-roll, Wizards coach Scott Brooks admitted he’ll live with Horford taking 17-foot shots. After watching the film, he might come to a different conclusion.
Here are some other notes from Celtics-Wizards Game 5.
— Horford had an incredible Game 5. Click here to read a breakdown of his performance.
— The Celtics fell down 4-0 to begin the game, then went on a 13-0 run to force a Wizards timeout. The run eventually increased to 16-0, with every C’s starter hitting at least one shot at that point. Boston kept pouring it on and forced another Washington timeout after Thomas threw an alley-oop to Amir Johnson to give the Celtics a 20-8 advantage.
Boston took a 33-21 edge after 12 minutes and never looked back.
“We fed off of it a lot,” Horford said of his team’s dominant first quarter. “And I think the biggest thing for us was just sustaining it. I feel like our bench was able to do that for us. Terry Rozier gave us great energy, (Marcus) Smart, and Jaylen Brown defensively was great for us (Wednesday night). He was locked in.”
— The Wizards’ starting five arguably was the difference maker in their Game 4 win in Washington, as they outscored the Celtics’ starters 96-48. Game 5 played out much differently. C’s starters outscored their Wiz counterparts 92-66. Johnson was the only Celtics starter not to reach double-digit scoring, although he had a respectable eight points in 18 minutes.
— Celtics forward Jae Crowder mightily improved from his lackluster six-point effort in Game 4 with 18 points in Game 5. He also tallied eight rebounds, two assists and went 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
— Marcus Smart provided his best performance of the series. In addition to his nine points off the bench, the energetic guard pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds and dished out six assists.
— Avery Bradley’s 25 points in the first half were his career playoff high for a single game. The Celtics guard finished with a game-high 29 points on 12-for-19 shooting, including a 4-for-7 mark from beyond the arc.
— Boston has been getting destroyed on the glass throughout the playoffs, but it actually out-rebounded Washington 48-45 in Game 5. Smart, Crowder, Horford and Bradley all tallied six or more boards.
— Many New England Patriots players attended Game 5, including wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Julian Edelman. Head coach Bill Belichick and his girlfriend, Linda Holliday, also sat courtside. Belichick received the loudest applause of the night on the two occasions he was shown on the jumbotron.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images