By MyFM's Jake Archer - After the Boston Celtics took care of the Chicago Bulls by 105-83 on Friday night, they advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the first time since the 2011-2012 season. It was Brad Stevens’ first career playoff series win and the first time out of the first round for this Celtics core. They were set up for a meeting with their rival, the Washington Wizards, on Sunday.
These two teams have had some bad blood between them for a while now and they seemed destined for a playoff matchup. A lot of people think they have what it takes to beat the C’s, myself included. I hate to be that guy, but I think the Wizards are winning this series in seven games.
Anyway, at the start of Game 1, Wizards believers looked really good. Washington jumped out to an early 16-0 lead and led by as many as 17 points before the Celtics rallied. During that crazy first quarter, Celtics star point guard Isaiah Thomas would have his tooth knocked out, which was just a minor annoyance based on how he would play the rest of the way.
Thomas would score 33 points and dish nine assists to lead the Celtics and bring them back against a tough Wizards team. Jut the day before; Thomas had gone back to his hometown of Tacoma, Washington to attend his younger sister’s funeral.
It is truly amazing to see the kind of strength Thomas has shown over the course of these playoffs. I honestly wouldn’t have begrudged him doing anything that he wants to because of the tragedy that struck. But he’s shown up, played hard and played well. He got back in to Boston at 4 a.m. on Sunday and stayed committed to his teammates. He’s a true warrior.
After the first quarter, Washington led 38-24. They had shot 62% and grabbed the first 12 rebounds of the game. The Celtics would battle back in the second however, when they went on a 13-2 run to cut into the deficit significantly. One key to the game was Washington’s Markieff Morris leaving in the second with a sprained ankle. He plans to play in Game 2.
Going into the half, Boston trailed 64-59. They’d come back out with a vengeance in the third however, and they’d essentially take the game back into their own hands. The C’s absolutely dominated the Wizards, outscoring them 36-16 and just flying around the floor at a frantic pace. In the final quarter of play, Washington would start to make a little run before the Celtics regrouped and held them at an arms length the whole time.
The Celtics definitely battled and looked like a one seed during this game. Al Horford continued his awesome play as he came up just a rebound short of a triple-double. He poured in 21 points, dished 10 assists and grabbed nine rebounds to help Thomas carry the load. Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and even Marcus Smart all had awesome games as well. Smart’s stats didn’t pop off the score sheet by any means, but he seemed to be all over the place making huge plays.
Despite the 12-point margin of victory, the game was pretty competitive. I’ll be looking forward to the rest of this series to see what is in store between these two teams. Game 2 is on Tuesday night in Boston. Tip-off is at 8 p.m.