The Boston Celtics started their second-round NBA playoff series against the Washington Wizards on a high note Sunday, picking up a 123-111 Game 1 win at TD Garden.
After a brutal start to the contest, Boston exploded for a 36-point third quarter which galvanized the comeback victory.
Isaiah Thomas was the man of the hour for Boston, scoring 33 a game-high points and dishing out nine assists. Jae Crowder (26 points) Al Horford (21 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds) and Avery Bradley (18 points) also delivered strong efforts for the C’s.
Washington had three players record double-doubles. John Wall (20 points, 16 assists), Marcin Gortat (16 points, 13 rebounds) and Otto Porter Jr. (16 points, 11 rebounds) all turned in impressive performances, but it ultimately wasn’t enough to top the C’s.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jae Crowder
PF: Gerald Green
C: Al Horford
The Celtics got off to a painfully bad start, as the Wizards jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the opening minutes of the first quarter. Boston wouldn’t log its first points of the game until the 8:04 mark, when Thomas sunk three free throws. Washington kept its foot on the gas and held a 38-24 lead after the first 12 minutes.
Thomas (12 points) and Kelly Olynyk (10 points) combined for nearly all of the Celtics’ first quarter points. Boston struggled from the field early on, shooting just 38 percent through one quarter. The Wizards, on the other hand, were red hot and posted a 61 percent shooting percentage. Gortat paced Washington with nine points to go along with three rebounds in the quarter. Wall was in command in the first frame, scoring seven points and dishing out five assists.
BOSTON BATTLES BACK
After a dismal first quarter, the Celtics picked it up in the second. The C’s outscored the Wizards 35-26 in the period and cut the deficit to 64-59 heading into the break. After going scoreless in the first quarter, Crowder and Marcus Smart both tallied six points in the second frame to help Boston get back in the ballgame. Thomas continued to lead the Celtics, posting team-high 19 points in the first half.
Despite improving their play, the C’s still couldn’t solve Gortat. The Washington big man notched five points in the second quarter and pulled down seven rebounds. Wall also continued to stuff the stat sheet, boosting his first-half totals to 13 points and eight assists.
THIRD QUARTER THUMPING
The Celtics dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Wizards 36-16 in the frame to take a 95-80 lead into the fourth. Boston was able to grab a double-digit lead thanks in large part to its success from beyond the arc. The C’s sunk six of 13 3-point attempts, three of which came from Crowder. Thomas posted another strong quarter, scoring 12 points in the third.
Boston also found success on the glass. After being torched by Gortat in the first half, the Celtics out-rebounded the Wizards 14-7 in the third quarter.
C’s HANG ON
Wizards made things interesting despite entering the fourth quarter down 15 points. Washington cut the deficit to three with just over six minutes remaining, but that’s as close as it would get. Boston was efficient from the field, converting on 11 of 20 shot attempts in the fourth. A well-balanced offense coupled with stingy defense down the stretch helped the Celtics hang on to take a 1-0 series lead.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Thomas buried back-to-back 3-pointers in the first quarter after losing his tooth. Not too shabby.
The Celtics and Wizards will battle in Game 2 of their second-round series Tuesday night. Tip-off from TD Garden is set for 8 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images