Boston Celtics: 2014game75
THE NITTY GRITTY
Marcin Gortat paced six Wizards players in double figures by scoring 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting as Washington stamped its postseason passport for the first time since 2008. John Wall added 13 points, 10 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals, while finishing a team-best plus-30 in 28 minutes. Jared Sullinger scored a game-high 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting with seven rebounds and six assists and he was Boston's lone bright spot. Kelly Olynyk finished with 14 points and four rebounds and was improbably a plus-8 in plus/minus, seemingly impossible in a game in which Boston lost by 26.
It took less than four minutes for the Wizards to open a double-digit lead. Feeding Gortat early and often, the Wizards generated 14 points in the paint while opening a 19-4 advantage just five minutes in. Gortat did the bulk of the damage with eight points and Washington shot 75 percent (9-of-12) in that span. On the other side, Boston missed five of its first seven shots, turned the ball over twice and spent the rest of the first half just trying to stick around. The Wizards blew the game open in the third quarter while outscoring Boston 32-12.
Washington shot a blistering 62.5 percent (45-of-72) from the field. ... The Wizards connected on 52.6 percent (10-of-19) of attempts beyond the 3-point arc, while Boston finished at 12.5 percent (3-of-24) from distance. ... All 11 players that dressed for Boston played. Avery Bradley sat out with a strained right Achilles tendon. ... Washington turned the ball over 21 times leading to 20 points and it didn't matter. The Wizards never trailed and led by as many as 33.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (23-52) have dropped six straight and 11 of their last 12. Boston moves back into a tie with Utah for the fourth worst record in basketball with seven games remaining for both teams. The Celtics get a day to rest before launching into a back-to-back that starts with a visit from the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night at TD Garden, then concludes with a trip to meet the Detroit Pistons on Saturday.
Bradley, who missed 19 games recently due to right ankle woes, sat out the second half of Monday's loss to the Chicago Bulls due to stiffness in his Achilles. He had been pegged a game-time decision on Wednesday night, but was held out as the team errs on the side of caution. Jerryd Bayless starts in his place.
"You’re always appropriately cautious," coach Brad Stevens told reporters in Washington at Wednesday's shootaround. “So you always want to make sure health, especially long-term health, is never sacrificed in any which way."
Bradley is averaging a career-best 14.2 points over 30.4 minutes per game in 55 appearances this season. Bradley is set to be a restricted free agent this summer.
Bradley stressed to reporters in Washington that his current ailment is merely an offshoot of his ankle injury. Said Bradley: "It doesn't have anything to do with my ankle anymore. It just comes from not playing for a while and now playing at full speed. My ankle's not loose and it ends up giving me tendinitis [in the Achilles]."
Bradley is expected to be reexamined by team doctors on Thursday.
- THE CLINCHER: The Celtics already watched the Toronto Raptors clinch their first playoff appearance in six seasons last week, now it's the Wizards looking to stamp their long unused postseason passports against Boston. After failing to clinch a playoff berth on Monday against Charlotte, the Wizards need a win to book their first playoff trip since 2008. With a couple-game cushion on each side, the Wizards are comfortably entrenched at the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and would project to visit either Toronto or Chicago (currently tied) in the opening round.
- FINISHING STRONG?: The Celtics have eight games remaining in a loss-filled season, but own one of the easiest schedules in the NBA during the final month. After a brutal March in which Boston went 3-12 against some top competition, the schedule eases a bit (at least after Washington). That won't make this one any easier. The Celtics have lost 10 straight road games. Boston will have Rajon Rondo back in the starting lineup after sitting out Monday on the second night of a back-to-back, but backcourt mate Avery Bradley is uncertain after experiencing soreness in his right ankle and sitting out the second half in Chicago.
- LOOSE BALLS: This is the third of four meetings this season between the teams. The road team has won each of the first two meetings with Boston posting a 113-111 overtime triumph in Washington in January. ...
Jeff Green scored 39 points on his old college court during that win, while John Wall put up a triple-double for the Wizards. ... The two teams conclude their season series in the regular-season finale for both sides on April 16 in Boston.
(Read full game preview)
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