Wizards see Celtics as 'vulnerable'

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Wizards see Celtics as 'vulnerable'

BOSTON -- In less than a week, the young Washington Wizards have tested the veteran Boston Celtics in two down-to-the-wire contests despite playing without their scoring leader John Wall. On Saturday, the Celtics barely edged out an 89-86 win on the road. Four days later, the C's needed an extra five minutes in overtime to earn a 100-94 victory at TD Garden. 
The Wizards locker room had a tone of frustration following Wednesday's loss, knowing they had opportunities to turn the tables in both games. They had a game plan to take on the Celtics -- go, go, go.
We know they're vulnerable," said 19-year-old rookie Bradley Beal. "We know that they are an aggressive team, but they are a lot older then we are so we are going to try and wear them down. They have a decent bench and their bench comes in and gives them immediate scoring, everybody has the green light. So our plan is basically to wear them down and keep pushing the ball in transition and make sure our pick-and-roll defense is what it needs to be, especially on Paul Pierce.
While Pierce shot just 2-for-12 from the field on Wednesday (12 trips to the free throw line boosted his game total to 15 points), Rajon Rondo, often criticized for his offensive range, hit key jumpers. 
"We didn't want to let Paul Pierce get off and then KG (Kevin Garnett) get a lot of open jump shots, so we were running those guys off the line and being aggressive," said Martell Webster. "But you've got to give credit where credit is due. Rajon Rondo played big tonight, knocking down jumpshots. He's effective when he's doing that because he has an arsenal. His repertoire is a pass-first point guard, but if he's knocking down open jumpshots, they're a hard team to play."
The Celtics and Wizards do not meet again until April. By then, both teams will have had nearly an entire regular season to gel. Beal believes he and the younger Wizards will continue learn from their veteran teammates over the next few months and be able to test the C's in their season series finale. 
"We know the Celtics are a great team and we know that we have the potential to be a great team as well," he said. "So we are not going to back down from anybody. We are just going to keep competing.

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas 'not worried' about end of scoring streak

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas 'not worried' about end of scoring streak

BOSTON – You knew sooner or later, Isaiah Thomas’ impressive scoring streak of games with 20 or more points had to come to an end.

That time was Monday night as Thomas had 19 points in Boston’s 114-98 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

While the Hawks certainly played well defensively against Thomas and the rest of the Celtics, the 5-foot-9 guard is quick to acknowledge that the Hawks didn’t all of a sudden come up with a game plan that can shut him down.

“They didn’t do anything special,” said Thomas after missing 17 of his 21 shot attempts. “I just missed a lot of shots in the paint that I usually make. I got to where I wanted to, but that wasn’t just me it was our team. We missed a lot of shots that we usually make and you got to tip your hat off to the Atlanta Hawks.”

In doing so, Thomas’ franchise-record streak of consecutive games with 20 or more points now stands at 43.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens saw first-hand how his players – including Thomas – missed a lot of shots they usually make.

But limiting Boston offensively always starts with how you defend Thomas.

“They were really aggressive on him,” Stevens said. “They were really tough on him. They bodied him up, they were physical, they had a bunch of different guys on him at different times, they were very active off of the screens.”

And as far as his streak of games with at least 20 points, Thomas said he’s not disappointed that it has come to an end.

“I’ll break it again,” he said. “I’m not worried about it, I’ll break it.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game which ended with a 114-98 Celtics loss to Atlanta.

 

STARS

Dennis Schroder

He was arguably the biggest difference-maker on the floor Monday night. In addition to doing an exceptional job defending Isaiah Thomas, he also led the Hawks with 21 points on 9-for-14 shooting with four rebounds and five assists.

Dwight Howard

His ejection aside, Howard’s presence around the rim at both ends of the floor caused major problems for Boston. He finished with a double-double of 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting along with 12 rebounds and two blocked shots.

Isaiah Thomas

The Hawks did about as good a job as we’ve seen any team at defending Thomas who still managed to lead the Celtics in scoring with 19 points on 4-for-21 shooting. For a minute there, he seemed to be flirting with a quadruple-double. In addition to his 19 points, he also had seven rebounds, seven assists and seven turnovers.

 

STUDS

Jaylen Brown

His play was one of the few positives for Boston. He came off the bench to score 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting to go with five rebounds.

Taurean Prince

Only Paul Millsap logged more minutes on Monday than Prince whose defense and rebounding were huge. He had a near double-double of eight points and 12 rebounds.

 

DUDS

Celtics’ rebounding

This could be a dud for Boston almost every game, but they were worse than usual on Monday night. Atlanta had a 55-40 advantage on the boards which contributed to them dominating points in the paint (60-34), second-chance points (20-11) and fast-break points (15-7) which was fueled by rebounds followed by quick outlet passes to players in transition.

Isaiah Thomas on the end of his streak: 'I'll break it again'

Isaiah Thomas on the end of his streak: 'I'll break it again'

Isaiah Thomas discusses the Boston Celtics struggles and the end of his streak in the loss to the Atlanta Hawks.