The Boston Celtics struggled to find their offensive rhythm in the nation’s capital during Games 3 and 4. They only averaged 95.5 points at the Verizon Center as opposed to averaging 126 points at TD Garden this series.
Losing Game 5 would put Boston in a very difficult situation. Going down 2-3 in the series and having to go back to D.C. to force a Game 7 would be challenging to overcome.
The Celtics have struggled to get off to good starts in this series, but that was not the case in this game. After the Washington Wizards scored the first four points of the game, the Celtics went on a quick 16-0 run.
Boston never looked back from that point on. They thoroughly dominated Washington throughout the whole game. Avery Bradley was the catalyst behind Boston’s dominance. He had a career playoff high of 29 points, 25 of which came in the first half.
Avery Bradley’s 25 Pts in the 1st half were no easy feat. pic.twitter.com/xuZvngZ2fj
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 11, 2017
Washington could never stop the bleeding and got down by as many as 26 points in this game. Boston’s excellent shooting from the field (52.9%) and from three (48.5%) was too much for Washington to overcome.
— NBA (@NBA) May 11, 2017
Takeaways for Boston
Although Bradley scoring twenty-five points in a half again is unlikely, his play speaks to a bigger point — Boston’s starting wings are the barometer for the Celtics’ success in this series. Bradley had twelve points combined in Games 3 and 4 and had no impact on those games at all. Jae Crowder also under performed in Washington. When Crowder and Bradley play well, the Celtics are extremely difficult to beat.
Isaiah Thomas failed to score twenty points for the third straight time in Game 5. This series is the first time he hasn’t scored at least twenty points in back-to-back games. Washington has made it a point to not let Thomas be a huge factor offensively. The 5-foot-9 guard let that bother him in Games 3 and 4, but in Game 5 he did something that he hasn’t done in this whole series — he made plays for others. Thomas combined for nine assists in the both games in the nations capital, but had eight in Game 5. If he can continue to prioritise playmaking over scoring, Boston will have a great advantage.
IT finds Olynyk on a beautiful wraparound pass and the big man drains the trey! pic.twitter.com/P7bEfDRspY
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 11, 2017
Takeaways for Washington
John Wall had his worst game in this year’s playoff run. He was lethargic, and never imposed his will on the game like he has done so many times in the past few weeks. Wall must have a great performance in Game 6 if Washington wants to survive in this series.
Washington’s defense in TD Garden has been putrid. Boston has scored 123 points or more in the three games played at home this series. Scott Brooks needs to find a way to galvanize his troops, and inspire them to play the type of defense that can give them a chance to compete when they are away from home.
Player of the Game: Avery Bradley (29 points, 6 rebounds, 4-7 from three)
Honorable Mention: Al Horford (19 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks)