Celtics fail to finish strong in loss to Wizards

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BOSTON – Win or lose, the Boston Celtics have consistently played with good effort across the board. 

But good effort, particularly when you are battling injuries and inconsistent play, won’t be enough against the better teams in the league. 

And make no mistake about it, the Washington Wizards are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference that requires great effort in order to defeat. 

The Celtics learned this first-hand with the Wizards coming away with a 111-103 win in large part because they simply out-worked Boston at both ends of the floor. 

This was particularly problematic when it came to Washington misses which often turned into Wizards rebounds and second-chance points. 

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For the game, Washington had 18 second-chance points, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter alone. 

“For us, it’s just demoralizing when you go through something like that, where you play good defense and then it’s a long shot or a long rebound and we don’t come up with it,” said Kyrie Irving. “We have to take our effort to another level and that’s on us and something that we can control and take this game as a learning experience.” 

Said Jayson Tatum: “Every loss is disappointing especially the ones that are close. A couple plays, a couple rebounds, turnovers, that could have changed the game.” 

Here are five takeaways from Boston’s 111-103 loss to Washington.

 

MARCUS MORRIS

He returned after missing eight straight games due to left knee rehabilitation, and the rust from the long lay-off was evident. More concerning is the soreness he’s experiencing in his left knee isn’t healing to the point where he can play steady minutes which is starting to look more like it’ll be an issue all season. And that will certainly factor in Boston’s desire to make a trade or hold out to make a run at a player that gets bought out. 

 

FOURTH QUARTER DEFENSE

Boston’s defense wasn’t great most of the night against Washington, but they really struggled in the fourth quarter which ended with the Wizards closing the game on a 21-8 run. Digging deeper into the Celtics’ defense in the fourth, Boston used primarily seven players in the quarter with all but one (Daniel Theis, 91.1 defensive rating) having a defensive rating of at least 128.9 which speaks to Boston’s late-game issues weren’t the handiwork of one or two players but the team as a whole.

 

WING DEPTH CHALLENGED

The Celtics’s depth at the wing position took another tough blow with the leg injury suffered by Jaylen Brown. He had a noticeable limp following the Wizards loss, and his status for Wednesday’s game at Charlotte. Boston began the season significantly weakened at this position with Gordon Hayward’s dislocated left ankle injury. The up-and-down health issues experienced by Marcus Morris has left much of the wing duties to Brown, who is in his second NBA season, and rookie Jayson Tatum. Throw in a sore back injury to rotation regular Semi Ojeleye and you have a Boston roster that’s extremely thin on talent, experience and depth at what at the start of the season was a position of great depth. 

 

REBOUNDING

It’s amazing how sudden Boston’s fall from grace on the glass has been this season, after ranking among the NBA’s best rebounding clubs for a good chunk of the season. The Wizards were just +2 (47-45) on Monday, but it felt so much greater than that because so many of them were of the critical, game-changing variety. The Celtics are currently 13th in the league in rebounding percentage (.502). During their 16-game winning streak, Boston’s rebounding percentage in that span was .532 which ranked second in the league. 

 

TURNOVERS

The Celtics have done a pretty good job most of this season limiting their mistakes which in turn, has allowed them to be effective at both ends of the floor. But against the Wizards, they committed way too many mistakes and miscues that allowed Washington to get out and run for easy baskets. Boston committed 17 turnovers against Washington which led to 19 points. Boston was particularly bad in the fourth with five turnovers that led to seven Wizards points.

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