The Washington Wizards once again jumped out to an early lead. This time, however, they were able to turn it into a win.
Washington earned a 116-89 Game 3 victory over the Boston Celtics on Thursday to cut the series deficit to 2-1.
After blowing double-digit leads in each of the first two games, Washington kept the pressure on for 48 minutes at Verizon Center to secure its first win of the second round. Despite the blowout score, there was still plenty of drama with seven combined technical fouls and three ejections.
John Wall was the star once again for the Wizards, finishing with 24 points and eight assists. Per ESPN Stats & Info, he has a new NBA record with nine straight games in a single postseason with at least 20 points and seven assists.
The difference in this one was the help he got from the rest of the team:
|Notable Wizards Stats|
Otto Porter Jr. was especially impressive early on with his aggressive performance in the first half:
Otto makes his first 7 shots for #DCFamily. @WashWizards on top of @celtics 63-40 at the half on ESPN. BOS leads series 2-0. https://t.co/mVUwBr2gnY2017-5-5 01:18:41
The team pounded the ball inside, crashed the offensive glass and limited turnovers to gain extra opportunities leading to the high-scoring effort.
Porter's hot start helped Washington once again jump out a first-quarter lead, this time featuring a 22-0 run:
The @WashWizards explode for a 22-0 run in the 1Q. They lead @celtics 39-17 on ESPN. Bojan/Porter: 9 points each. https://t.co/N5KeYqJB9r2017-5-5 00:39:26
It was the third game in a row the Wizards have gone up double-digit points after the first quarter. Per NBA.com, the 119 points scored are a record for the first three games of a series.
There were some more fireworks in the second quarter when Kelly Oubre took exception to a Kelly Olynyk illegal screen:
More bad blood. FULL VIDEO: https://t.co/3Rhx3dT1vk https://t.co/tVl4m1914G2017-5-5 01:07:24
The Wizards wing picked up a flagrant-2 foul and was ejected after just five minutes of playing time.
Stephen A. Smith of ESPN provided his thoughts on the player's decision:
Stephen A Smith @stephenasmith
Stupid reaction by Oubre Jr. for the @WashWizards. That was a solid legal Hard pick by Olynk. Period. Now he's ejected. Major loss.2017-5-5 00:57:53
The chippy play continued throughout the game, as did the arguments from both sides. Washington head coach Scott Brooks picked up a technical foul, with Brandon Jennings and Terry Rozier also getting ejected.
While it remains to be seen if further discipline will follow from the league, fans should at least expect conflict in upcoming games.
Washington kept up its intensity on the court, though, building a 63-40 advantage going into halftime. The lead expanded to 30 points in the second half and remained near 20 points the rest of the way.
Isaiah Thomas—who needed extra dental work at halftime—couldn't help the Celtics much in one of his worst games of the postseason. The All-Star followed up his 53-point showing in Game 2 with 13 points on just 3-of-8 shooting.
The Wizards defense was as good as it has been all series, holding Boston to 35.1 percent from the field.
Al Horford (16 points) and Jae Crowder (14 points) were the only other Celtics in double figures.
Both teams will get an extra day to regroup before Game 4 on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET, although it's clear we now have a competitive series. The Celtics had a chance to move within a game of a sweep, and all of a sudden we are within a contest of evening things up.
The Wizards were significantly better at home during the regular season and will try to use the Verizon Center crowd to keep their momentum in the next matchup.