The Wizards got off to a quick start in game one, scoring the first 16 points of the game and leading by 14 after the first quarter. The Celtics promptly took over, dominating the middle two quarters of the game to blow past the Wizards and eventually cruise to a 123-111 victory.
The Celtics found their offensive game in this one, making 19 threes and shooting over 50 percent from the field. After struggling with his shot in the first round, Jae Crowder made six of eight threes and scored 24, Al Horford was a rebound shy of a triple double with 21 points on 10-13 shooting, all in support of Isaiah Thomas, who, minus a tooth, still had 33.
The Wizards had plenty of offense, also shooting over 50 percent and making threes, but their poor free throw shooting (13-22) and inability to stop the Celtics doomed them to a game one loss. They should feel alright though, I think. The Celtics are unlikely to continue at their torrid pace from game one. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see what Brad Stevens does with his starting lineup. He’s been unafraid to tinker, inserting Gerald Green into the lineup in the first round against the Bulls. Green started game one, but only played seven minutes after Boston’s poor start. Stevens has been playing Marcus Smart a lot, and using three guard looks and small lineups; one wonders whether rebounding will hurt them if they keep going like that.
The Jazz get their moment in the spotlight starting tonight against the odds-on favorites to win the title when they begin their series against the Warriors in Oakland.
Good for them, as making the second round is an outstanding achievement. It almost certainly ends here, though, as the talent gap between these teams is enormous. The Jazz will try to limit the damage by doing what they do: Play at as slow a pace as they can, defend well, play physical, and rely on Rudy Gobert to protect the rim. I quite admire what they’ve accomplished this season, but it won’t be enough in this series.
The Warriors simply have too much. In addition to shooters all over the floor, two MVPs in Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, they also play outstanding defense, and combination that led to the best record in the NBA yet again. They dispatched the Blazers in four in the first round despite missing Durant for a couple of games and probably not playing their best until the close-out game.
The Jazz can look to their lone victory over the Warriors this season in the second to last game, which they accomplished without Gordon Hayward. They dominated the offensive glass in that one and limited their turnovers, two areas they must control for any chance of success. Of course the Warriors at that point had nothing to play for, while the Jazz were still fighting it out for seeding. The Jazz will compete, but in the end talent wins out.
Enjoy the games. Chat here.