WASHINGTON (AP) - Isaiah Thomas' Boston Celtics and John Wall's Washington Wizards have built something of a rivalry this season, going back and forth, trading wins on the court and barbs off it, from the "Funeral Game" in January to the lost tooth and ejection of their current playoff series.
It has been over three years since the Wizards last followed up a home win over the Celtics with a victory in Boston, a feat they must now accomplish if they are to advance past the second round of the playoffs for the first time since their last National Basketball Association title win in 1979.
Even though his team is averaging about 30 more points in Boston than in Washington during this series, Celtics coach Brad Stevens insisted that the venue isnt the most important factor in a games outcome.
Boston will try to buck those trends at the Verizon Center tonight, while trying to continue another one. Bradley Beal led the Wiz with 27 points, John Wall added 20p-16a, while both Marcin Gortat (16p-13r) and Otto Porter (16p-11r) finished with double doubles. While the Celtics can rely on the fact that a deciding Game 7 would be played at the TD Garden, it'd be best to just take care of business tonight.
If the Boston-Washington series goes to seven games, the winners meet the Cavaliers next Wednesday.
The Celtics got on an early 16-0 run and never looked back.
Bradley, who is playing with a sore hip, scored 25 points in the first half as the Celtics compiled a 22-point half-time lead.
More hustle by Washington helped push Boston's turnover rate to 18 percent when it is on the road and the Wizards' points off turnovers per game to 25.5 in this series. After all the heat the C's took from their embarrassing losses in Washington, it was nice to see them return the favor and blow the Wizards out in Boston.More news: Kapil Mishra submits proof to CBI against Kejriwal, threatens with hunger strike
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The Boston Celtics can advance to their first conference final since the 2011-12 season with a victory here. The Wizards 3-point shooting has been a problem in the playoffs, with the team down at 32 percent through 11 playoff games after hitting 37 percent during the regular season.
Al Horford has been everything the Celtics wanted when they signed him to the ginormous contract over the offseason. He's been even better against the Wizards, upping those percentages to 69 percent and 59 percent, respectively. Beal is averaging 19.4 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds per game, while Porter is averaging 15.8 points, 2.2 assists and 8 rebounds per game. He did just about everything, which is what we've grown accustomed to seeing this postseason. In Boston's three wins, Wall has a plus/minus of minus-17.
"Everybody plays well at home", Beal said. The Wiz have done a better job containing Isaiah Thomas since his 53 point Game 2 performance as he was held under 20 points in games three, four, and five.
He's made the most of being healthy this time around. We've got to play with great effort. Avery Bradley is the third double-digit scorer and Jae Crowder is grabbing six rebounds. "For him to be able to do that and be effective with that and score the ball, the way he was doing it (Wednesday night), was a lot of fun to watch".
For example, Wall falls asleep and loses sight of Bradley on this possession, but it's because the Celtics use Thomas as a screener at the point of attack. It's often excessive and downright frustrating, but it's one of their deadliest weapons.
The Celtics shot 65 percent from the field in the first quarter and 53 percent overall, including 16 of 33 on 3-point attempts. With the Wizards throwing multiple defenders at him whenever he had the ball in his hands, Thomas used his gravity in a similar fashion to Stephen Curry to open up shots for his teammates in the half court. A bad word at a sporting event - the horror! Maybe they'll have something clever for him instead of just booing every time he touches the ball, but after Wednesday night's outrage at Boston's potty mouths, it will probably be something cordial and respectful.
Series: Celtics lead 3-2.