The Boston Celtics returned to the floor after a loss on Tuesday night in Toronto and they were able to get back in the win column, downing the Washington Wizards 117-108 in a high scoring affair.
A big story in this one was who the Celtics didn’t have. Avery Bradley (Achilles), Tyler Zeller (sinus infection), James Young (ankle), Amir Johnson (ankle) and Jaylen Brown (ankle) were all inactive but it didn’t phase the Celtics as they took home a win in a hard fought battle. They moved to 24-15 with the win while the Wizards fell to .500 at 19-19.
A full box score can be found at ESPN.com. Here is tonight’s Three Pointer.
Layup: Jordan Mickey played okay but his flaws still showed up
The biggest story going into the game was the fact that second year big man Jordan Mickey – who hadn’t appearaed in a game for the Celtics since early December – was getting a spot start with Amir Johnson out, keeping Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko on the bench. He has been a bit of a fairy tale since Danny Ainge drafted him. Everything you ever heard about him was fantastic; he led the NCAA in blocks while at LSU, many analysts called him the steal of the 2015 draft, he became the highest paid second round pick ever and he was even named D-League Player of the Month in December 2015 and was also a D-League All-Star. All this praise made fans really want to see him get playing time but there were always flaws along the way that you never heard about, and some of those came out in this one. You can’t take anything away from the guy because he didn’t do anything to hurt the team in 14 minutes while playing in a situation that was totally unknown to him, but turnovers were a huge issue for him in both college and last year with the Red Claws and he committed two of them tonight despite not getting many that many touches. Mickey also isn’t a high end rebounder and that was seen tonight as he only came down with two of them. It’s nice to know that you can relay on him when you’re backed into a corner with injuries, but in no way did Mickey play well enough to earn playing time on a fully healthy Celtics team.
Midrange Jumper: It was Terry Rozier’s time to step up
The “Three Pointer” from last night’s loss to the Toronto Raptors came heavy with praise for Gerald Green and Kelly Olynyk for being the role players who went above and beyond what they normally do in order to make up for the loss of Avery Bradley while also raising questions towards Terry Rozier – who is actually a guard – for not doing anything to step his game up with Bradley out. That all changed in this one as the second year guard scored 11 points off the bench on 4-for-6 shooting to go along with four rebounds, an assist and a steal in 25 minutes of playing time. His jumper off the dribble with just over ten minutes remaining put the Celtics ahead for good and Rozier also knocked down a big corner three to make it a six point game with four minutes left; Washington never got it back to a one score game after that shot dropped. This was really refreshing to see because Rozier has struggled since getting benched around Christmas, but he came up huge tonight and it’s hard to see Boston winning without what he gave them tonight. Olynyk did continue his nice little stretch as well in 23 minutes of action off the bench as well, scoring six points, grabbing six boards, recording three assists and blocking two shots.
Three Pointer: Thomas tried to do too much early on
Isaiah Thomas tired to do too much in the fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors last night and it didn’t work out too well as “The Little Guy” went 2-for-8 from the field and had three shots blocked in the process as the Celtics wound up blowing a double-digit lead. He then went on to start this game just like how the last one ended; by trying to do way too much on his own. He did score eight points, but he committed three turnovers and lost control of his dribble a few more times in the process only to have the lose ball picked up by a teammate to save him from additional turnovers. Terry Rozier finally checked in for him with 2:55 remaining and the Wizards up by six points, but the Celtics were able to settle down after that and even had the lead by the time the first quarter was over. Time on the bench really didn’t help Thomas too much as he would eventually reenter the game and finish the half 4-for-12 from the field with four turnovers and just one assist. Even the third quarter wasn’t anything special as a scored a few more points but still seemed to be pressing but it finally began to click in the final frame as he hit some big shots, which was thanks in part to him making far smarter decision then he had earlier on in the game. Decision making is often the thing that holds Thomas back and everybody saw how great the Celtics looked as a team when he slowed things down and played smarter basketball.
It was really weird to start Mickey over Jerebko and Olynyk but you have to credit Stevens big time for making that call. While nobody in Boston’s starting lineup tonight exceeded a +4 rating, Jerebko posted a +16 in 22 minutes and Olynyk was +10 in 23 minutes. It was hard to go to lineups you’re used to using throughout a game like this, but the ones that Stevens threw out there were working.
I jinxed Marcus Smart, guys. This one is on me.
Jae Crowder has been rather quiet on the floor ever since his outburst on Twitter, but that ended tonight. Crowder scored 20 points and was a big reason why Boston was in this game early on after dropping 14 points in the first quarter. If there’s ever a night to snap out of a slump, a game where you only have ten players healthy is a pretty good one.
DeMar DeRozan went for 41 last night, Bradley Beal went for 35 in this one. Marcus Smart gets a lot of defensive praise but he’s still no Avery Bradley and this is made clear by shooting guards going off on the Celtics in back-to-back nights.