Celtics down Wizards in National Basketball Association grudge match

The Celtics would not only increase their lead in the overall standings to 2.5 games over Washington with a win Monday, but they would build an nearly insurmountable four-game edge in the Conference record standings with just 11 games to go.

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens clearly had offense in mind when he reinserted Isaiah Thomas for the final possession of the third quarter, but could not have predicted how the 5-foot-9 guard scored his ensuing bucket. His scoring has dipped a little from last season because he has taken 1.3 fewer shots.

Like most fans, I'm not buying this "just another win" talk that players like to say after we know and they know, that's so not what just happened out there. Barring a complete collapse by Boston down the stretch (highly unlikely with 8 of Boston's final 11 games coming at home) the Wizards would not be able to catch the green in the conference record category, effectively guaranteeing Boston the end-of-season tiebreaker between the two squads (if it comes up).

With Washington having 12 games left, nine will be against teams either now in the playoff picture or just on the outside looking in. The home team has won each of the first three meetings, with Boston picking up a 117-108 victory at TD Garden in January in a game that featured plenty of jawing and a near-encounter in the back hallway between the locker rooms after the game.

Of course the Wizards have time to bounce back and potentially overtake the Celtics for the No. 2 spot in the East, but that seems highly unlikely. The Celtics entered the night 27th in overall rebound percentage, but they outrebounded the Wizards by a 54-39 margin.

The Boston Celtics had also faced their last game lose over Philadelphia 76ers 105-99 on Sunday afternoon after three consecutive wins.

"Oh, yeah, yeah, for sure", a smiling Thomas said. If the Celtics win, they would tie the season series at 2-2 and take a 2.5 games lead in the standings with just 12 games left.

And as we've seen in their four game regular season series, that's a huge factor when you consider the home team has won every game.

"It never got dirty", Crowder said of Monday's game. "With that team, it's always going to be a physical game, always going to be trashing talking and things like that". Thomas leads in points with 29.2 and in assists with 6.0 per game.

  • Julie Sanders