If you include the NBA All-Star break, it had been 16 days since the Boston Celtics last won a game.
At times, it’s felt longer.
But at long last, the C’s got back in the win column Friday, beating the lowly Washington Wizards 107-96 at TD Garden.
The victory snapped a four-game losing skid in which the Celtics truly just played some appalling basketball at times. And though they didn’t deliver their best brand against the Wizards, a nice third quarter offensively and fourth defensively got them the win they’ve so desperately been seeking.
But let’s not mistake what the win was. It was a morale booster, and nothing more. The Wizards truly are a bad basketball team that has packed this season in, and the Celtics probably should have beat them more convincingly than they did. The C’s now will face the Houston Rockets on Sunday before embarking on a West Coast road trip that will task them with some tough squads, among them the Golden State Warriors.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens made quite clear after the game that while the Celtics will enjoy Friday’s win, it won’t be for long.
“Yeah, I mean it’s always good to win,” Stevens told NBC Sports Boston’s Danielle Trotta on the network’s Celtics postgame coverage. “I think in this league one of the things is this stuff all happens so fast. (You) enjoy it for one minute then move on to Houston.”
A win must be nice for them, sure. But the Celtics need to start stringing a few together before they start feeling too good about themselves, and that doesn’t appear to be lost on them.
Here are some other notes from Friday’s Wizards-Celtics game:
— Bradley Beal tends to carve up whatever opposing defense he faces, and the Celtics were no different.
Beal had 27 points through three quarters and the C’s led by just one. But in the final stanza, Jaylen Brown was tasked with defending Washington’s star, and he did a pretty great job. Beal was held to just two points over 7:39 minutes of work in the fourth period as Boston outscored the Wizards 25-15 to earn the win.
Marcus Smart had a pretty good way of describing Brown’s defense.
— Speaking of Smart, the guard had himself a pretty solid night.
He dropped 16 points, hitting all four of his three-point attempts in the process, sinking six of his seven shots from the field.
In hitting his four triples, Smart moved up in the Celtics record books. He now has 418 career three-pointers made, putting him in sole possession of seventh in that marker in franchise history. During Friday’s game alone, Smart passed Dana Barros (416) and Walter McCarty (417) to get to his new spot in Celtics folklore.
Smart’s been a much-maligned shooter over his career, at times deservedly so. But saying he has hit more treys in his Celtics tenure than Barros is a nice feather in his cap.
— The second quarter hasn’t exactly provided shining moments for the Celtics lately.
Over their last four games, Boston has been unable to break the 20-point mark during the second stanza. In its losses to the Chicago Bulls and Portland Trail Blazers, it managed just 18 points. The C’s were held to even fewer, 13, against the Toronto Raptors. They posted 19 second-quarter points against the Wizards.
— While the Celtics haven’t played up to their capabilities much this season, they should find some peace in the fact that they perform well at home against conference opponents. With their win over the Wizards, the C’s now are 19-3 at TD Garden vs. Eastern Conference foes this season.
As if there wasn’t enough need for urgency in the first place, the way they play on the parquet is all the more incentive for the Celtics to really push for a seed higher than fifth. It’ll be tough for them to catch the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks or second-seeded Raptors, but the third and fourth spots, currently occupied by the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers, respectively, absolutely are attainable.
Think you know hoops? Hit up the NBA sportsbook at BetPhoenix.ag.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images