It was a great first half between the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards today. It definitely felt like a playoff game, which was funny because the “prize” at stake was a date with the Brooklyn Nets in the first round.
It was a hard-fought half that finished 54-52 in the Wizards’ favor. Russell Westbrook, unsurprisingly, had an insane stat line for the half with eight points, 13 rebounds and five assists, while Bradley Beal scored 11 of his 13 first half points in the second quarter.
The Celtics, on the other hand, were able to rely on their stars Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker, who combined for 30 points before halftime.
We even got to see a classic Westbrook play, too, where he skied for a putback dunk and also smacked teammate Alex Len in the face in the process.
The Celtics were unperturbed, though, and started to get it going in the third quarter. By the time the dust settled, they had gone on a 27-6 run to build a big lead. This, of course, resulted in Brodie falling back into old habits and taking bad pull-up threes.
To add to the issues for the Wizards, Beal looked like his hamstring was still bothering him. It’s a testament to his skill that he still managed to score off drives, make long threes and keep defenses honest
Tatum went supernova in the third quarter, scoring 23 as he starting hitting from everywhere on the court. The Wizards did manage to cut it to single digits halfway through the third quarter, but the Celtics then pushed it back to 90-80 by the end of the period.
Westbrook seemed out of sorts in the second half, and frustration from missed layups, jumpers, and fouls seemed to get the best of him. He spent a lot of time arguing calls. Even his favorite elbow jumper was missing badly, and he went 6 of 18 from the field and 0 of 4 from beyond the arc. He finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 points.
Beal had his share of struggles from the field too, as he went 10 of 25 (1 of 6 from three) to score his 22 points.
Outside of Beal and Westbrook struggling, Washington also struggled with keeping the Celtics from getting offensive rebounds in the big moments. You always felt like the Wizards still had a shot if they could just make a run, but it never really materialized in the second half.
When they’re at their best, Beal and Westbrook are good enough to beat this Celtics team, especially without Jaylen Brown. We did not see that today, and that explains the Wizards’ massive 118-110 loss.
When you see such a transcendent performance from an opposing star like Tatum, you’ve go to be at your very best. Westbrook and the Wizards simply didn’t bring it in the second half, and deserved to lose this game. Let’s also give credit to Kemba Walker, who chipped in 29 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Westbrook may have been suffering from some undisclosed illness or injury. He went straight to the locker room after being subbed out with 3:45 left in the game.