The home team might not lose a game in the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals between the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards.
After the C’s opened the series with a pair of home wins, the Wizards held serve on home court with two victories, including a dominant 121-102 win in Game 4 on Sunday night to even the series at two games apiece.
John Wall once again ran the show for the Wizards with brilliant all-around play, but it was his backcourt sidekick Bradley Beal who led all players with 29 points.
These teams traded runs in a pretty even first half, but Washington broke the game open with a 26-0 third-quarter burst that Boston never recovered from.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Al Horford
C: Amir Johnson
CELTICS OVERCOME ANOTHER BAD START
The Celtics took three minutes and 41 seconds before scoring and started 0-for-4 from the field as the Wizards began the game on an 8-0 run. Boston recovered with a 12-2 run, led by a pair of 3-point shots from Thomas.
Hot shooting from beyond the arc powered an 8-0 Celtics run later in the frame as they took a five-point lead with three minutes remaining. The Celtics ended the quarter with a four-point lead — their first edge after 12 minutes in the series. Thomas led the way for Boston with nine points. The C’s shot 5-for-8 from 3-point range in the quarter and their defense held the Wizards to 9-for-22 shooting overall. Boston also did a much better job defending Wall, who went scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting in the first quarter.
JOHN WALL FINALLY HEATS UP
Thomas got the Celtics going early in the second quarter with a pair of early 3-point shots. He began the game 5-for-5 from beyond the arc. His fifth 3-pointer opened up a 10-point Celtics lead and forced the Wiz to take a timeout.
The Celtics stretched the lead to 12, but the Wizards then went on a 7-0 run to close the gap a bit. Boston’s lead was cut to three with just over three minutes remaining in the half after a seven-point burst from Wall.
Wall pushed the Wizards to a two-point lead with less than a minute left in the half. He made a beautiful behind-the-back dish to Marcin Gortat, made a reverse layup over Horford and hit a 3-pointer all in a 90-second span. Wall finished the quarter with 14 points, but the Celtics were able to tie the score before halftime.
Thomas led all scorers in the first half with 17 points, but he had zero points in the last 7:28 of the quarter (Boston had just seven total points in that span). Washington had 10 first-half turnovers, which matched their total from Game 3. The Wizards dominated the boards 28-18, though.
HUGE RUN SPARKS WIZARDS
Johnson powered a 5-0 C’s run to begin the quarter with two free throws and a 3-pointer. The Wizards responded with an 11-0 run, aided by five points from Beal and back-to-back shot clock violations by the Celtics.
Washington’s run increased to 22-0 — its second 22-0 run of the series — to open up a 17-point lead. Boston’s turnovers, poor shot selection and fouls on easy layups to set up and-1’s contributed to the outburst.
The Wizards’ run got to 26-0 before Horford and Thomas each scored easy baskets off turnovers. Washington closed the quarter strong, though, and took a 22-point lead into the final frame after outscoring Boston 42-20.
Wall (13 points) and Beal (11) points paced the Wiz in the third, as Thomas (two points) struggled to keep up. Washington also opened up a plus-15 edge in rebounding with a dominant quarter on the glass.
WASHINGTON HOLDS ON
The Celtics never challenged the Wizards in the fourth quarter as the teams played a pretty even frame. Thomas didn’t score in the quarter and rested for most of it as Celtics coach Brad Stevens primarily used his bench.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Wall is a playmaker, too.
The Celtics and Wizards return to TD Garden in Boston for Game 5 on Wednesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images