The Wizards looked very lethargic in the first half, but eventually climbed out of an 18 point hole to pull off a miraculous comeback in Boston against the surprisingly good Celtics. Here are the Bullet Points:
- Marcin Gortat has struggled this month, but he definitely stepped up when the Wizards needed him most this afternoon. He finished the game with 13 points and 11 rebounds on 6-9 shooting. Gortat came up big defensively, stopping a few drives from Jeff Green which could’ve changed the course of the game. Gortat blocked 4 shots tonight, and a few of them happened late in the game. He’s talked about shooting less shots from the perimeter, and he did a really good job rolling to the basket which is something the Wizards need Gortat to do more often. He’s one of the best pick-and-roll bigs in the league and having him run that play with the guards did bail the Wizards out multiple times offensively. Overall, Gortat played a solid game tonight.
- Since he’s still on limited minutes, Randy Wittman opted to play Nene off the bench once again and it worked out well for the second straight game. Nene scored 13 points to go with 8 rebounds in just 23 minutes of action. The Celtics have been playing some terrific team defense this season, but they don’t necessarily have a player on their roster who could match up with Nene. He also made a great touch pass to Gortat under the basket which sealed the win for the Wizards. Everyone seems a lot more comfortable when he’s on the floor, and the Wizards have won 3 straight games on the road as a result.
- Bradley Beal played his worst game of the season against Boston this afternoon. He scored just 9 points on 3-12 shooting, but his shot selection was even more concerning. I’m not sure if Beal is worried about injuring himself again, but he really needs to stop settling for deep two’s, especially when lanes open up for him to drive. He took way too many perimeter shots today that easily could’ve been threes. Basketball pundits consider deep two point shots the worst shot in the sport, but Beal seems to have fallen in love with it. I have no problem with Beal taking that shot if he’s hitting it consistently, but it hasn’t been happening much this season. His sub par field goal percentage is probably evidence of his shot selection.
- John Wall struggled to find his shot early on, but he eventually caught his stride in the second half. He finished the game with 20 points, 9 assists, and more importantly, 6 steals. Once Wall gets focused defensively, he elevates everyone around him. He’s obviously great offensively once he gets it going, but once he locks in defensively, he becomes a totally different player. He pressured Jordan Crawford into multiple turnovers late in the game which helped lift the Wizards to victory. Wall also knocked down a few key jumpers, including a three in the fourth quarter that helped the Wizards pick up another road win. It wasn’t his best game, but Wall was definitely effective tonight. He probably hasn’t played better defense this entire season than he has against the Celtics this afternoon.
- Despite John Wall’s heroic shots down the stretch, Trevor Ariza was the player of the game. He finished the game with 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 5-made threes that helped the Wizards come back from a 18 point deficit. Ariza has continuously knocked down clutch shots from the corner this season, but he also made a few threes trailing in transition. He’s obviously best when he isn’t dribbling the ball, but he also made a few cuts to the basket which opened up the offense for Washington. If Ariza continues to play this well, it’ll be tough for the Wizards try and not re-sign him this offseason.
Jared Sullinger was spectacular and Avery Bradley looked like Reggie Miller coming off screens, but the Wizards remained composed and eventually went on to win.
They’ll have a 5-day break before playing the Timberwolves in Minnesota next week. This will give Nene and Bradley Beal time to rest their injuries, hopefully getting them back to playing regular minutes.
Overall, it was a great win for the Wizards. They haven’t played an early game in a while, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference once they got it going.