Wizards epic wiped out by Jayson Tatum’s Celtics

The Washington Wizards lost to the Celtics 144-102 in Boston on Sunday afternoon. Here are five observations from what happened …

The Celtics are tough

The Wizards recently played their best basketball in months and when they ran into a circular saw against the Mavericks Friday night, they stuck the blade. But on Sunday, the circular saw crossed the finish line as the fiery Boston Celtics beat the Wizards by 42 points in a game they were in control every step of the way.

While the Wizards led the Mavs by 34 points, the differential was even worse in this one. Boston was up 43 points at their peak, and the 42-point loss differential was the biggest for the Wizards in five years.

The defeat ripped the Wizards out of a stint in which they won four out of five games. Washington dropped to 34-44 in the season with only four games to play.

The defeat to Boston kicked off a three-game journey, as the Wizards then head to Minnesota to see the Timberwolves. They will also play with the Hawks in Atlanta the following night in what will be their last back-to-back of the 2021-22 season.

3-point defense

The Wizards had major problems blocking the perimeter against a Celtics team that entered the day ranked ninth in the NBA in three made. Boston started 9 of 13 from long distance and finished the game 23 of 44. The 23 tied three were the second most allowed by the Wizards franchise. It’s hard to win against a team that shoots so well and it was enough to make up for what was a good offensive Wizards game.

There were some threes made by the Celtics that were just hard shots, but also too many with guys left open in the corners and on the flanks. There were a lot of communication outages that left too much daylight for the open shoot. The Wizards played a little too much on Grant Williams and he made them pay with 16 points out of four three. Jaylen Brown and Payton Pritchard also had four threes each, while Derrick White added three.

There was Ish Smith

The Wizards got a nice push off the bench from Ish Smith, who came out on fire, hitting his first five shots. He made a number of cunning plays around the edge and generally seemed to be giving the Celtics trouble with his speed and haste. He had 16 points (8-10 FG), five assists and two steals; a solid all-round game for the longtime NBA veteran.

Smith remains a joy to watch, as he whizzes in and out of traffic, still a step ahead of most people despite being 33 years old. There have been a few Wizards games in recent seasons where the team has lost, but Smith has provided a bright spot with his commitment and energy to him. Sometimes, in a disappointing season, you have to appreciate the positives and Smith being back on the swap deadline and doing his own thing was one of them.

Two Jay

The Celtics seem like a team that no one wants to face in the playoffs. They have the best record in the East since January 1, now at 32-11, while Brown and Jayson Tatum play like an elite duo. Brown scored the Celtics’ first 11 points in this match, beating the Wizards 11-6 during that interval. He finished with 32 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Tatum has always been a marvel to watch and you can see it continues to grow. He found Brown with a one-handed rebound pass in the second quarter which was really impressive, especially considering how good he is as a scorer. If he can make such plays for others more consistently, he will go from one of the best scorers in the league to possibly one of the best players in the league. Tatum scored 22 points, seven assists, six rebounds, two steals and a block.

KP and KCP

The Wizards had recently won a few games by playing better defense and sharing the ball on offense. But even with ball movement and selfless play, there was a hierarchy in their attack with Kristaps Porzingis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope leading and Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija as third and four options. In this game, Caldwell-Pope continued to run with 17 points. It was the rest of the team, outside of Smith, who fought.

Porzingis was good at the start, but held 17 points on the 5 for 15 shot. Hachimura had a rare night off with zero to 0 points on 5 from the field. Avdija caught two quick fouls in 45 seconds and that hurt his pace, even though he finished with 10 points on the 4-for-7 shot. It would have been tough on the Wizards offense overall, as the Celtics have the number one defense. 1. They do a great job of switching and stopping the ball with physical fronts. Their elite defense is another reason Boston seems capable of a long post-season run. The Wizards just caught them as they approached the playoffs.

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