Final, Wizards win 118-92: Considerate as they are, the Boston Celtics ushered yet another club into the playoffs.
Less than a week after falling to the Toronto Raptors, who clinched a playoff spot in the win, the Celtics drop a lopsided decision to the Washington Wizards, who clinch their first playoff berth since 2008.
Jared Sullinger put up 25 points, Chris Johnson grabbed eight rebounds and the Celtics (23-52) shot 83 percent from the foul line, but that’s reaching to find positives. The Wizards (39-36) trounced them in nearly every conceivable way, placing six players in double figures, led by Marcin Gortat’s 22 points.
Fourth quarter, 2:27, Wizards 111-89: Hate to spoil the ending for you all, but there probably won’t be any stirring comeback. The Celtics are currently rolling with a three-man backcourt of Chris Babb, Pressey and Johnson.
All three guys work hard, but they’re not your preferred crunchtime lineup.
Fourth quarter, 5:55, Wizards 106-79: Battling to the finish, the Celtics have cut their deficit all the way down to 26 at one point. So, there’s that.
Sullinger is going to finish this game with a pretty strong stat line. He has 25 points, but he also has just four boards and has committed four fouls. The Celtics will take what they can get as far as positives go, though.
And, hey, Jeff Green has dunked the ball a couple of times, so that’s cool. He’s 3-for-13 from the field, but … dunks!
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Fourth quarter, 9:46, Wizards 95-71: There have been miraculous comebacks before, but something tells me coming back from a 33-point deficit would be something else.
Still, the Celtics are giving it a shot. They’re on a 9-0 run — after giving up consecutive threes to Al Harrington to being the quarter, but anyway — so Wizards coach Randy Wittman wants a timeout. Probably to remind his guys that, you know, they had a 30-point lead.
End of third quarter, Wizards 89-62: There really isn’t much to like from this game if you’re a Celtics fan. The Celts are making the Wizards look like the mid-Atlantic version of the Spurs — which, spoiler alert, they’re usually not.
The Wiz are cruising, shooting 61 percent from the field, putting five players in double figures and assisting 23 of their 35 field goals. Gortat has a game-high 22 points and eight rebounds. Wall has a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists.
It’s led to this astute observation:
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Also, this happened:
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Third quarter, 7:19, Wizards 68-52: If Bradley Beal is just going to not miss a shot, this isn’t very fair. The second-year shooting guard is a perfect 6-for-6 from the field for 13 points, matching John Wall for the second-most on the team, as the Wizards have stretched their lead to a game-high 16 points.
Halftime, Wizards 57-46: It took a dozen tries, but the Celtics finally made their first 3-pointer.
Jared Sullinger beat the buzzer with a spot-up corner three to make the Celtics 1-for-12 from deep. As you might guess, that’s not good. They are 17-for-42 from the field overall.
Meanwhile, the Celtics are 11-for-12 at the free throw line. You would think that would inspire them to attack the basket more and stop settling for long shots. We’ll see.
Sullinger has finally give the Celtics a presence other than Rajon Rondo, cruising into halftime with 10 points and three rebounds. He hasn’t been able to do much to slow down Marcin Gortat’s bruising work in the paint. Washington’s center has 16 points and seven rebounds, a decent game’s worth of stats already, with an entire half to go.
The Wizards are shooting a blistering 61 percent and are winning the rebounding battle 21-16. The Celtics have to generate better looks for themselves and limit the leisurely shooting practice for the Wizards in the second half.
Second quarter, 2:37, Wizards 47-36: The Celtics keep doing just enough to hang around. OK, so it’s mostly just Rondo, but he’s a member of the Celtics, so it counts for the whole team.
Rondo hasn’t been flawless, though. He’s committed five of Boston’s 10 turnovers, which, along from just terrible shooting, is one of the biggest reasons the Celtics trail by double-digits.
Second quarter, 5:45, Wizards 39-26: It was a nice little flurry while it lasted, but the Celtics are gradually getting left behind. If they don’t get their act together fast, they’ll be far out of this game by halftime.
With Rondo taking a rest, Washington’s bench is doing a number of its Boston counterpart. The Wizards have doubled the Celtics, 10-5, in this quarter, with the current Celtics lineup of Bayless, Anthony, Johnson, Sullinger and Phil Pressey a combined 1-for-12 from the field.
Second quarter, 8:49, Wizards 35-24: The old heads are showing the young guns how it’s done. Andre Miller, the reliable veteran point guard who was banished by coach Brian Shaw of the Denver Nuggets, has found a place in Washington and has two points and two assists in his first three minutes of action.
On the Celtics’ end, little-used center Joel Anthony induced a traveling violation in the post by Drew Gooden. Together, Miller and Anthony are showing that sometimes, youth and athleticism are overrated.
End of first quarter, Wizards 29-21: Back-and forth, back-and-forth.
No, not the score. The Celtics’ performance level.
After falling behind by as many as 15 points, the Celtics rebounded to make things interesting in the middle of the quarter. But despite a touchdown-pass assist by Rondo to Kelly Olynyk for a layup right before the buzzer, the Celtics are down eight after one quarter.
Rondo was Boston’s best player — really, it’s only player of note — in the first frame. He’s 5-for-8 with two assists, pretty much single-handedly keeping the Celtics in this game. He’s no Gortat, who has 12 points and six rebounds against Boston’s nonexistent front line, but he’s not doing too badly.
First quarter, 5:13, Wizards 22-12: It’s an age-old story. The Celtics come out flat. Stevens inserts Chris Johnson. The energy level immediately experiences an uptick.
Although C.J. has yet to score, he’s been active at both ends. He cut for what should have been an open layup, had Jared Sullinger been looking, then tracked down back-to-back defensive rebounds that he quickly outlet to Rondo for fast-break layups.
First quarter, 9:57, Wizards 8-2: So far, the Wiz have hit every shot they’ve taken and Marcin Gortat has a hammer dunk over a flat-flooter Celtics defense.
The Celtics have been lucky to hit the rim.
The Wizards are 4-for-4 from the field, including Gortat’s rim-rattler to open the game. The Celtics have gotten a 17-foot jump shot by Brandon Bass, followed by a missed layup by Kris Humphries and an airballed 3-pointer by Jerryd Bayless.
Not surprisingly, Brad Stevens wants to talk things over.
6:34 p.m.: Avery Bradley has spent more time than not on the bench as a Boston Celtic, and he’s holding to form in what could be his last couple of weeks in green.
Bradley will miss tonight’s game due to a strained right Achilles tendon, coach Brad Stevens informed reporters in Washington before the game. Bradley left Monday’s game with an apparent sprained ankle and did not return.
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This means a second straight start for Jerryd Bayless, who was also on the floor for tip-off in Chicago in place of point-guard-turned-broadcaster Rajon Rondo, who is back in uniform tonight.
The projected starting lineups appear below.
8 a.m. ET: It’s gotten so bad for the Boston Celtics, they’ll start a broadcaster at point guard Wednesday.
Rajon Rondo will hang up his headphones for now to lead the Celtics (23-51) into the nation’s capital to take on the playoff-bound Washington Wizards (38-36). Yes, we said “playoff-bound.”
After three straight seasons without ever cracking the .500 mark at any point and a postseason drought that stretches back to 2008, the Wizards can clinch a spot in the Eastern Conference field with a victory over the Celtics. It might not be the grandest accomplishment in NBA history, but given the Wizards’ recent fortunes, they’ll take it.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 7 p.m.