Wizards Third Quarter Run Too Much for Celtics
John Wall led the Wizards to victory over the Celtics with 27 points and 12 assists to tie the series 2-2 during a playoff game at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on May 7, 2017. Robert Eubanks/DC Sports Box file photo
WASHINGTON, D.C. After using a big run in the first quarter to pull away in Game 3, the Wizards were at it again, using a 26-0 run in the third quarter en route to a series tying 121-102 victory.
 
“We played inspired basketball for each other,” said Wizards’ Coach Scott Brooks. “It’s about playing for each other and we’ve been doing that all year. It’s probably our best stretch of basketball.”

John Wall, who finished the game with 27 points, 12 assists, and 5 steals, was a fireball for the Wizards, willing the team back before halftime and providing the finishing touches on the victory during the third quarter run.

Midway through the second quarter, the Celtics pulled out to a 40-28 advantage, their largest lead of the game, before Wall, who went scoreless in the first quarter, led the Wizards on a 20-8 run to end the half tied at 48. Wall finished the quarter with 14 points, including a stretch where he scored nine straight points for the Wizards.

After the Celtics took a 53-48 lead early in the third quarter, the Wizards went on a 26-0 run, lasting a hair under six minutes, to take a commanding 74-53 lead. During the run, the Wizards held the Celtics to 0-for-5 shooting from the field and forced 8 turnovers, leading to 19 points. The increased defensive intensity helped the Wizards hold Isaiah Thomas to 2 points in the second half after a 17-point first half, where he went 5-for-6 from beyond the arc.

“It was all our defense. That’s all it was,” said Bradley Beal, when discussing what led to the 26-0 run which effectively put the game out of reach. “We realized at halftime that we weren’t defending the way we were capable of. It was still a tied game [and] we just came out in the third quarter with a better mindset that everything was going to stem from the defensive end.”

Beal found his shooting touch and led all scorers with 29 points, going 11-for-16 from the field. Otto Porter Jr. and Markieff Morris also finished in double figures for the Wizards, adding 18 and 16 points, respectively.

After winning the last two games and tying the series, the Wizards feel confident that they can maintain their momentum as the series heads back to Boston on Wednesday.

“We know that we have the ability to win there,” said Wall. “We have to bring the same defensive intensity that we had the two games that we had here because when we played there we didn’t play great defense and we still had a chance to win those games.”

Transition Game:

The Wizards finished with a 25-12 advantage in fast break points for the game, with most of those points coming off turnovers. Celtics’ Coach Brad Stevens said the Wizards’ attack in transition “killed us,” adding, “One of the things [is] if you turn the ball over against these guys you prefer to drop-kick it into the stands so that at least you can set your defense.”

Stop IT:

After a big first half for Isaiah Thomas (IT), the Wizards adjusted, holding him to 2 points on 1-for-3 shooting, along with 5 turnovers in the second half.

“I was guarding IT [Isaiah Thomas] most of the second half – our goal is to just take him out of the game,” said Beal. “We’re going to continue to be physical with him.”

“Just make it tough for him. If we can get it out of his hands we have the best opportunity to win the game,” added Porter Jr.
 
Written by Hirdesh Matta