BOSTON – Near the end of the second quarter of the Celtics’ 110-102 win over Washington, it was a sight seldom seen...Isaiah Thomas with a tip-in, put-back basket.
That play more than any other embodied the kind of night the Celtics had on the offensive glass, which turned out to be one of the many keys to Boston’s victory.
Boston would finish with decisive 54-39 advantage on the boards, 20 of which were of the offensive variety.
You have to go back to Game 2 of the Celtics’ 2009 first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls to find the last game in which the Celtics grabbed at least 20 rebounds AND won.
“It’s contagious,” quipped Thomas to CSNNE.com. “We gotta keep doing it.”
While it’s hard to imagine Boston will have too many – if any – more games where they dominate the glass like that, doing so against a Wizards team that usually pushes them around can only be seen as a positive.
In the three meetings prior to Monday, Washington won the battle on the boards in each game by an average of 10.3 rebounds per contest.
So, for the Celtics to not just hold their own but overwhelm Washington on the glass, was indeed a shock for most involved.
“When you miss, you got to make sure you rebound the basketball,” said Wizards coach Scott Brooks. “That’s always the finishing part of the defense and 20 offensive rebounds, way too many.”
It wasn’t unusual to see Avery Bradley, Al Horford or Jae Crowder put up big rebounding numbers. They each grabbed nine.
But maybe the biggest surprise was Kelly Olynyk, who had a near double-double off the bench with nine points and a season-high 11 rebounds.
“He was good on both ends,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “Defensively, he did a good job of blocking out and pursuing the ball. And then on offense he was quick to the ball and was able to rebound over some of the smaller lineups.”
Small lineups, big lineups.
It doesn’t matter.
The fact that the Celtics were able to come up with a big game on the boards, is a reminder to this young team that they can do more than compete on the glass...they can win it going away.
“It’s very important. It gives us confidence,” Thomas told CSNNE.com regarding the importance of dominating the glass. “We have to continue to do it and continue to get better in order to build momentum going into the playoffs.”