The NBA playoffs can bring out the best and the worst of players. Going into this series between the Celtics and the Washington Wizards, people expected the energy to be high and the tension to be thick enough to cut through with a knife. So far, the tension has been there in some instances, but the passion has only been consistent from one side. The Washington Wizards head back home, down 0-2 to the Boston Celtics. The Wizards are being outplayed so far and just cannot get it going. But there are a few things that can happen to maybe get them back on track.
The Wizards are by far the bigger team in this series. When they trot their starting lineup out there, they look taller and they look like the more physically-imposing team on the court. But unfortunately for them, their size does not win them any basketball games. The Wizards have been holding their own in spurts on the court, but they have not been able to win the physical battles at all. The Celtics seem to have taken the physical play of the series to another level with their hard screens and pestering defense. At the point when the Celtics get more physical, you would think the Wizards would match the physical play and rise to the occasion. But unfortunately, they just have not done so this series at all. Time and time again, you can see the Wizards looking despondent and disinterested or just flat-out mentally drained. The result of them letting Boston gain a physical edge on them ends up with Boston taking control of the game and Washington not being able to recover. For Washington, they need to match the level of Boston’s physical play. They are the bigger team and they should be asserting their physical will on them, not the other way around.
The physical play is definitely leaning the way of the Celtics, but so if the bench play. The Boston Celtics are by far the deeper team in this series. Guys like Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk have been huge for the Celtics off the bench so far in this series. When the Celtics go to rest their starters, they don’t really have much of a dropoff at all when it comes to the intensity. The Celtics don’t score as efficient as they usually do with Isaiah Thomas on the court, but they manage to make enough happen to occupy the Wizards. As far as the Wizards, they have been searching for some support from their bench all season long. They acquired Bojan Bogdanovic from the Nets during the trade deadline and also got Brandon Jennings after he was waived by the Knicks, trying to bolster their bench. They contributed some in the first series they had, but in this series they have not come in and given them what they need. Jason Smith has been ok for them off the bench and Kelly Oubre Jr has been solid off the bench in this playoff series. But for the Wizards to take it to another level, they need Jennings and Bogdanovic to step it up. Both guys can help sustain the Wizards’ offense so they can get John Wall some rest during the game and help him be prepared for the fourth quarter. Two of these guys play well and the Wizards will pick it up as a whole. But if they continue to be non-factors, the Wizards will be getting those vacation plans ready sooner than they want to.
The Wizards are in a deep hole early in this series. The good thing for them is they are going home for two games in front of their home crowd. But the bad thing for them is they have not been able to find any consistent answers to the Celtics and more importantly, Isaiah Thomas. For the Wizards, they better hope they find some consistency off their bench and a consistent physical edge because the Celtics are all over them at this point. This could be over early if the Wizards don’t respond, so they better dig deep and find that competitive fire.