Boston Celtics shake off Washington Wizards to make National Basketball Association conference finals
And teams such as the Celtics won’t just lay down and let the Wizards have what they want when they want it like the Suns, Kings and Blazers.
Al Horford had 15 points, six rebounds and five assists, Jae Crowder 14 points and five boards, and Smart 13 points, six rebounds and four assists in the win.
Isaiah Thomas said Friday night that Game 7s are “where legends are born”.
The Wizards can feel that they have better talent than the Boston Celtics, but only one team is advancing to the conference finals to face the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I knew it would be a big-time game tonight”.
“They are definitely going to have to play better, obviously, because it is Cleveland”, Gortat said. “We came up short”.
“Been here before, so we have to be smart”, he said. When the Celtics broke up the core of their 17th National Basketball Association championship team, they dealt Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn as part of a draft-night deal in 2013. “We needed to help out the starters”.
This is Boston’s first trip to the conference finals since 2012, the previous year of an era fueled by Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
“What a special opportunity to get a chance to compete against them”, Boston coach Brad Stevens said. Thomas also had a career playoff-high 12 assists.
Thomas added: “That says a lot about the team we are and we believe in each other”.
Some players might have wanted to avoid the pressure of an elimination game, but Thomas embraced it.
Bradley Beal was sensational in the second half, finishing with 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting.
“I thought about it a lot”, he said. “I don’t care if I played bad”. No matter, even if they end up getting swept, which might actually be the most likely scenario here, the Celtics should have no regrets about how their season ended. They opened their biggest lead, at 70-64, on two Otto Porter Jr. free throws with 6:52 remaining in the third quarter. John Wall and Markieff Morris each finished with 18.
Boston trailed 76-72 late in the third quarter before ending the period on a 13-3 spurt.
Washington cut into Boston’s lead before Olynyk scored 11 of his team’s 13 points for a 110-100 lead.
Just a few minutes later, Smart took the same walk and smiled at Olynyk – already sitting in his vehicle and waiting to go home.
The Cavs will have to adjust to not holding home-court advantage for the first time this postseason, as the Celtics held the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference after the regular season. “He was the difference today – a huge difference”. “I just love this game and I’m playing hard”.
“Our guys battled”, Wizards Coach Scott Brooks said.
The Celtics had the largest lead of the first half at 10-2, but that gap was quickly erased by Washington as Boston started to accumulate fouls.
By himself, reserve Olynyk also outscored Washington’s bench 26-5.
Wall did have six of his 11 assists in the fourth quarter, but was ice cold with his shot.
“He looked exhausted”, said Marcus Smart, one of Boston’s relentless perimeter defenders who took his turn on Wall throughout the series. “We just didn’t defend well at the end of the game. So it’s a not a satisfied season to me”. The Wizards were only 1 of 6 shooting, after four minutes. Still have not reached a conference final since 1979. The old cliche is that a series doesn’t really start until a road team wins a game, so did the Celtics-Wizards series ever start? James’ teams are 3-2 against the Celtics in the playoffs, winning the last three series.
The Wizards and the Celtics kept the fans on the edge for most of the contest with traded buckets and runs, before the home side came to life.