What Went Wrong for the Wizards in Game 1?
The second round of the playoffs are underway. With the first game in round two, Isaiah Thomas and the Boston Celtics took on John Wall and the Washington Wizards. This series is full of storylines, but for this article we are going to focus how the Washington Wizards blew a 17-point lead and lost Game 1. The Wizards came out running on all cylinders in the first quarter and started the game with a 16-0 run, so what happened?
Well first, Markieff Morris went down with a really ugly injury. Morris is definitely not the star in Washington, but he is an important piece to the puzzle for Scott Brooks. Morris puts up solid rebounding numbers and at least plays some defense. Either way losing a starter in the second quarter can be a big blow for a team in the playoffs when it comes to game planning.
Take a look at the injury here:
Another factor is free throw shooting. The splits for free throw shooting are outrageous in this game. The Boston Celtics went 12 for 15 from the stripe, which equals 80%. The Wizards went 13 for 22, which is 59.1%. Even one point during the game, Jeff Van Gundy made fun of the Wizards for how bad they were shooting from the foul line. That is an unacceptable number. If there is one thing that teams should always deliver on, it is free throws. Another split that was a little alarming, was 3-point shots made. The Celtics made 19 three pointers and the Wizards made 10. Now Boston took 39 shots from behind the arc, but still they made more shots. Those are two really important stats that we all need to pay attention to for the rest of the series. If the Wizards do not improve on their free throw percentage this will be a quick series. The three point shots do not matter as much because the Celtics are a better three point shooting team.
The biggest problem of all though was the third quarter. We can look at the numbers and analyze different aspects of the game, but the reality of the situation is the Wizards could not play small ball. This will definitely be a deciding factor in the series. The third quarter, Boston came out with a lineup consisting of, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Al Horford and Jae Crowder. This was a recipe for disaster for Washington. The Wizards defense just could not keep up with the swift moving Celtics. If Brad Stevens is as smart as the whole league thinks he is, the Celtics will be using this strategy a lot. It ended up changing the game and limiting the Wizards to only 16 points in the 3rd quarter.
Overall, let's not jump to, too many conclusions after the first game. The Celtics played an emotional game behind great performances by Thomas, Crowder, and Horford. The important items for the Wizards to focus on are playing through John Wall and Bradley Beal. They also have a great center in Marcin Gortat. When the Celtics go small, Scott Brooks cannot be afraid to run the offense through Gortat. If you make Brad Stevens have to stop the Polish center, it will open up shots for Beal and Wall. It was one game, it is not time to hit the panic button in Washington, but if they fall 2-0 in a similar fashion, the Wizards may want to fit themselves for some golf shoes.
Just like this:
Stats Courtesy of NBA.com