By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
Despite almost their entire front court unavailable due to COVID protocols, the Celtics were able to sneak by the Washington Wizards Friday night at TD Garden. With Tristan Thompson, Grant Williams, and Rob Wililams all inactive, Boston still won the game 116-107.
Behind yet another strong night from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the C’s were able to go toe-to-toe with one of the top offensive teams in the league. While those two led the way, it was another strong offensive performance from the whole team.
The battle between two of the league’s leading scorers opened as expected. At the first TV timeout, Tatum led the Celtics with six of their 11 points, while Bradley Beal had eight of 13 for Washington.
Boston came out of the break with an 8-0 run, sparked by a massive block from Tacko Fall who got some rare first quarter minutes. A few minutes later, a Tatum three gave the C’s a 19-13 lead and forced a Wizards timeout.
The Celtics led by as many as 10 points in the quarter, but Beal kept things from getting out of hand. After 12 minutes, Boston led 33-28.
As has been the theme in recent weeks, the Celtics came out looking their best early in the second quarter. Midway through the quarter, Brown delivered seven straight points, pushing Boston’s lead to 56-38.
Boston continued rolling into halftime, due in large part to their success from three. Heading into the locker room, the C’s led 66-47.
The Celtics extended their lead to as much as 28 points early in the third quarter. However, in the final minutes of the frame the Celtics got sloppy with the basketball. Bradley Beal took advantage, and trimmed his team’s deficit to 15 by the time the fourth quarter started.
Early in the fourth quarter, it was more of the same. The Celtics once again weren’t careful with the basketball, and Washington ran the floor with Beal scoring in transition. Less than two minutes into the quarter, Brad Stevens was forced to take a timeout with his team’s lead down to 10, 98-88.
Over the next few minutes, Washington continued to chip away. Despite a number of sloppy possessions, they’d get the game to 99-95 with seven and a half minutes to play.
Out of that TV timeout, the Celtics showed some fight. A deep three from Payton Pritchard put them up 102-95 with six minutes to play.
The Wizards were never able to mount another push as the Celtics held control down the stretch. Jaylen Brown made a number of key plays in the final two minutes, including a three pointer and a couple of rebounds.
Tatum led all Celtics in scoring with 32 points on 14-of-27 shooting. He added five rebounds in the effort as well.
However, the C’s best all-around performance came from Brown, who posted his second straight double-double. With 27 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and two steals, there was no aspect of the game he wasn’t involved in. Part of his success was constantly getting to the line – he finished 6-of-6 on free throws.
Off the bench, Tacko Fall played a career-high 19 minutes given the Celtics’ shortage of big men. He scored four points, with eight rebounds and three blocks. Meanwhile, Payton Pritchard led the bench scoring with 11 points.
This game likely would have been a blowout without the effort of Bradley Beal. The Wizards star dropped 41 points, although was held scoreless in the fourth quarter. That defensive effort was key in Boston holding off the late Washington run.
After their fourth win in a row, the Celtics are now 7-3 this season. They’re home again for their next game, Sunday against Miami. It’s the second meeting between the two this season, after Boston beat the Heat on a Payton Pritchard buzzer-beater tip-in on Wednesday. Coverage starts on 6:30 p.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub, leading up to game time at 7:00.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com