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Dose: Celtics Crush the Wiz

Thursday, May 11, 2017


Celtics 123, Wizards 101 - (Boston leads the series 3-2)


The Wizards scored the first four points of Game 5 on Wednesday night. The Celtics scored the next 16 and never looked back.

It was a solid all-around effort from Boston's starting five. Avery Bradley, who was on fire in the first half, continued his strong play and finished the night with a playoff career-high of 29 points (on 12-of-19 shooting) six rebounds, three assists and four 3-pointers. Coming into the 2017 postseason, Bradley had never scored more than 18 points in a playoff game. He has now scored at least 23 points in three of his last seven.

Al Horford did it all once again, tallying 19 points (on 8-of-9 shooting), seven assists, six rebounds, three treys, three blocks and one turnover in 28 minutes. This postseason, he is averaging 15.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.5 triples, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals, while shooting 64.0 percent from the floor and 56.7 percent from downtown. To put those numbers in context: During the 2017 playoffs, Horford has more assists than Isaiah Thomas, more rebounds than Kawhi Leonard and more 3-pointers than Klay Thompson.

Isaiah Thomas put up 18 points amidst another rough shooting night (5-for-13). Thomas has now failed to crack the 20-point plateau in each of the last three games in this series. Remarkably, per Basketball-Reference, this is the first time he has scored fewer than 20 points in three consecutive contests, in either the playoffs or the regular season, since December of 2015. Thomas poured in 53 points in Game 2 and has a total of 50 points in the three games since. Clearly, the Wiz have decided they want to force Celtics other than Thomas to beat them. That’s what happened in Game 5, as IT did a good job distributing the rock, racking up nine assists.

Rounding out the C’s starting five, Jae Crowder (18 points, eight rebounds) was solid and Amir Johnson has his best game of the postseason, finishing with eight points, five rebounds and one block in 18 minutes. Marcus Smart stuffed the stat sheet (nine points, 11 rebounds and six assists) in his 26 minutes off the bench.

John Wall came into Game 5 having scored at least 20 points and dished out at least seven assists in an NBA record 11 straight playoff games. (The previous record holder, Michael Jordan, had nine in a row). However, Wall's streak was snapped on Wednesday night. He finished with 21 points, four assists, four rebounds and two 3-pointers. Wall’s backcourt mate, Bradley Beal (16 points, four assists), missed all four of his 3-point attempts and was just 7-of-19 from the floor. Otto Porter had 13 points, four boards and two dimes. Marcin Gortat grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds but just scored just seven points. The rowdy Boston crowd was all over Kelly Oubre in his return from a one-game suspension, but Oubre played relatively well, finishing with 13 points, three rebounds and one 3-pointer in 20 minutes off the bench.

 

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Game 6 will be played Friday night in Washington. Including the regular season, the Celts and Wiz have played each other nine times now and the home team has won each and every game. If the Wizards can keep that streak alive, we’ll get a much-anticipated Game 7, which would be played Monday at 8 p.m. If the C’s win Game 6, they will host the Cavs in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday night.


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Thursday’s Game: Spurs at Rockets - 8 p.m. on ESPN
(San Antonio leads the series 3-2)

The availability of Kawhi Leonard is obviously the most important unknown variable heading into Game 6 in this series. Leonard injured his ankle when he stepped on James Harden’s foot in the third quarter of Game 5. Kawhi tried to fight through the pain, but coach Gregg Popovich eventually yanked him late in the fourth quarter and kept him on the bench in overtime. Remarkably, the Spurs held on and won thanks primarily to the trio of Patty Mills (20 points and four assists), Danny Green (16 points, five boards and four treys) and an impressive turn-back-the-clock performance from Manu Ginobili (12 points, seven rebounds and five assists).

Leonard said after Game 5 that he would play in Game 6. However, Coach Pop and the San Antonio medical staff will have the final say. Kawhi is currently listed as questionable. We are very likely staring at a true game-time decision, dependent upon how Leonard feels after pregame warmups. If he is unable to play or limited in away, Jonathon Simmons will see an uptick in playing time. Danny Green and Manu Ginobili would also like likely log additional minutes.

The Rockets are hoping to keep their season alive by forcing a Game 7, which would be played on Sunday. James Harden did all he could on Tuesday, tallying 33 points (11-of-24 FGs, 7-of-8 FTs), 10 rebounds, 10 assists and four 3-pointers. However, he did also commit nine turnovers, many of them coming in crunch time, as Harden had clearly run out of gas by the end of the game. Incredibly, coach Mike D’Antoni only played seven players the entire game. We shall see if D’Antoni goes with an expanded rotation in Game 6, which may allow his stars to be a bit fresher down the stretch.




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