The Washington Wizards dropped Game 5 in their second round series with the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. In a big 123-101 loss, what went wrong? And what should be done going forward?
The Washington Wizards came away empty-handed after Game 5 against the Boston Celtics. As the series moved to Boston, Washington was unable to beat the Celtics for the third straight time. After two emphatic victories on their home floor, the Wizards traveled up north and looked like a completely different team. Final score – 123-101.
The Wizards won Games 3 and 4 by 27 and 19 points respectively. However, they were unable to bring the momentum to Game 5. Frankly, the Wizards did not have the same effort, the same attitude, the same – juice – that they had in Games 3 and 4. Even with Kelly Oubre back in the lineup and the emotions still running high, the competitiveness for Boston wasn't there.
Credit the Celtics defense for holding the Wizards to the lowest point total of the series. In the first four games of the series, Washington had no problem putting up points, led by the brilliance of John Wall. The story was different on Wednesday night. There were several points at which the Wizards offense looked disjointed. Several possessions played right into the teeth of the Celtics defense. Poor, contested shots were taken.
Several Wizards players struggled as well. John Wall, a consistent 20-10 threat, scored 21 points but struggled throughout the first half with shot selection. His assist numbers were cut to four after 27 points and 12 assists during Sunday’s victory. The Wizards were unable to get anything going from the perimeter, looking completely out of rhythm. Bradley Beal did not make a three during the game, missing four. Otto Porter and Markieff Morris shot 1-of-5 and 1-of-4 from deep, respectively. The team shot a dismal 24 percent from the three-point line, and at times looked way too lax on the floor.
The bench struggled mightily as well, shooting around 30 percent from the field. The Wizards’ reserves shot 8-of-26 from the field, with only the returning Kelly Oubre chipping in a respectable game with 13 points. In his return from the Game 4 suspension, Oubre looked fine. But Bojan Bogdanovic was inconsistent, only converting one of his field goal attempts.
Did Anything Really Work?
On the opposing side, the Celtics saw some hot shooting from Al Horford, who probably had his best offensive game of the playoffs. He scored 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting, made 3-of-4 threes, notched seven assists and grabbed six boards. Horford’s diverse skillset was on display in Game 5, against Marcin Gortat and the rest of the Wizards’ (thin) big man rotation. Look at the Celtics' ball movement, spurred by Horford at the top of the key.
On “Inside the NBA,” (yes, I’m using that as a source,) Kenny Smith said the Wizards played with “no sense of urgency.” Knowing that they would return to Washington for Game 6, the Wizards didn’t exactly play with maximum effort. That was evident from the very beginning, with Boston taking a double-digit lead early in the first and never letting go. They led by as many as 26. Washington’s only lead of the game was 4-0 at the beginning of the game.
The game was mostly decided early, with the Wizards seemingly unable to cut into the lead. They were thwarted by the defense of Avery Bradley, and their shooting woes as well. The Wizards have shown a propensity to uncork monster runs – their 26-0 run in Game 4 showed that. But the Wizards couldn’t replicate that hot streak.
Game 6 - And the Season - Hang in the Balance
The Celtics now have a 3-2 lead over the Celtics. While the disadvantage may not be impossible, it’s win or go home time for them. If they win back at home, the Wizards will move on to Game 7 in Boston – they haven’t won a game at TD Garden this series. The sheer effort in Game 5 was lackluster, dooming the Wizards on both the offensive and defensive ends. The Wizards simply may just need to try - more - to come away victorious in Game 6. The heat is on for the players of Death Row DC.
We know the Cleveland Cavaliers are waiting, patiently, after their sweep of the Toronto Raptors. They’re waiting to see the aftermath of the Wizards-Celtics series. Despite the series heading to Game 6 on Saturday, the series has seen some decisive victories. The series might lack the drama of the Spurs-Rockets series, but the two teams have outplayed each other in their respective wins. Game 6 showed the Wizards were outmatched. Effort and consistency was lacking. After two huge victories, the Wizards fell short. They will play Game 6 at home with their season on the line. It’s do or die time for the Washington Wizards.