BOSTON – Home cooking continues to be a recipe for success in this Boston-Washington playoff series, with the Celtics putting together their best all-around performance in handily defeating the Wizards, 123-101.
Boston now leads the best-of-seven series 3-2 with a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference finals with a Game 6 win.
But you have to believe there will be a Game 7 back in Boston considering the home team has won each of the first five games by double figures.
And it was the Celtic who has been with the franchise the longest time, Avery Bradley, leading the way.
In addition to playing strong defense most of the night against John Wall, Bradley had a playoff career-high 29 points which is also the most points the veteran guard has scored at the TD Garden.
Bradley’s big-time scoring night was huge, as it took a tremendous amount of pressure off Boston’s leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas.
For most of the game, Thomas seemed more concerned with finding teammates for scores rather than getting his own scoring on track. He finished with a near double-double of 18 points and nine assists.
As well as the Celtics played, there was a sense that at any moment the Wizards would get going and climb their way back into the game.
Washington has been a team of runs throughout this series, so you kind of figured at some point they would put a surge of significance together.
Give the Celtics credit.
Every time the Wizards would string a couple of baskets together, one of two things happened: Brad Stevens would call a time-out to settle his group down, or they would take things into their own hands and find a way to get back on track with big stops defensive on the perimeter and at the rim, not to mention timely shots from players besides Isaiah Thomas.
Indeed, Thomas got a huge helping hand from his teammates who unlike Games 3 and 4 – both Boston losses – were far more aggressive at attacking the Wizards’ defense.
No one embodied this new mindset more than Bradley who had a playoff career-high 25 points by halftime.
He continued to be a problem for the Wizards at both ends of the floor, but he wasn’t alone.
Jae Crowder had a nice first half with 14 points, but was even more valuable helping out on the boards. Crowder was trending towards a double-double before finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds.
Teammate Al Horford was giving the Wizards the business in several categories, finishing with 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds. He became only the third Celtics player (Paul Pierce and Larry Bird were the others) to tally at least six rebounds, seven or more assists and three or more blocked shots in a playoff game.
Meanwhile, Wall and Bradley Beal led the way for the Wizards with 21 and 16 points, respectively.
The Celtics got off to their best start in this series with a 13-4 run to open the game. Boston would lead by as many as 15 points in the first before settling on a 33-21 lead.
Boston’s control continued throughout the second quarter as they continued to push ahead with their lead peaking at 48-26 after Jae Crowder banked in a 3-pointer.
At the half, Boston had a comfortable 67-51 lead.