Washington avoided falling behind 3-0 in its best-of-seven series by crushing Boston at home.
USA TODAY Sports
WASHINGTON — Five takeaways from the Washington Wizards’ 116-89 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Thursday at the Verizon Center.
These teams don’t like each other
We already knew that, of course, based on Games 1 and 2 and all four times they met in the regular season. But this game — which had three ejections and eight technical fouls — was just extra confirmation. Need more convincing? Take it from Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas.
“We don’t like them and they don’t like us,” Thomas said. “That’s just what it is, two teams competing. Whatever bad blood we had in the season has carried over into the playoffs. We’re just competing and trying to win.”
Thomas isn’t unstoppable …
… even though he may look it at times. But in Game 3, just two days after his heroic 53-point performance to give Boston a 2-0 series lead, the star 5-foot-9 point guard was held to 13 points on 3-of-8 shooting. The Wizards were more much more aggressive with him defensively, throwing different looks and fighting through screens to ensure he didn’t have a repeat performance.
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Not so fast, Boston
The Celtics had all the momentum heading into Game 3. They were the better all-around team in Games 1 and 2, and more importantly, they didn’t let Washington steal a game on their home floor. Oh how quickly things change. Now, after this 27-point rout, the momentum has shifted to the Wizards, who are looking to make this is a best-of-three series after Sunday’s Game 4.
What’s the deal, Bradley Beal?
Alongside star point guard John Wall, Beal was phenomenal in the first round against the Atlanta Hawks. He struggled with his shot from the perimeter at times, but he averaged 25.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.3 steals and shot 46.2% from the field. In the first three games of this series, those numbers have dipped to 17.3 points, three rebounds, 0.7 steals and 37% shooting. It was more of the same in Game 3 (11 points, 4-of-12 shooting), though he did set the tone for the Wizards early, scoring the team’s first seven points.
Resurgence of the Polish Hammer
Wizards center Marcin Gortat, who averaged just 6.5 points in the first round and struggled to make an impact against Atlanta’s front line of Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard, has been much more aggressive against Boston, and the Wizards finally reaped the benefits on Thursday night. He controlled the paint on both ends of the floor and finished with 13 points and 16 rebounds.
“I felt that I have to be responsible for taking care of the paint and protecting the glass every time, try to use every opportunity,” Gortat said. “At the end of the day, (if) they want to go small, I have to dominate the paint.”
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