What Switched on for the Wizards in Game 3?
Basketball is a funny sport, there are times when teams look lost out there and then there are times when teams look like the best team in the world. Luckily for the Washington Wizards, they looked really good in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics. What changed for the Wizards in Game 3 compared to the other two against Boston?
Never discredit what a home-court advantage gives to a team. Game 1 and 2 were in Boston where the Celtics players were able to sleep in their own beds and were familiar with their surroundings. Game 3 was a different story for both of the teams because it took place in Washington. The Verizon Center was rocking and the Wizards players looked poised and comfortable on their home-court. There are many different sports where there are real home-court advantages; normally basketball is not one of those sports. When it came to the Celtics and Wizards this could just be a feeling of familiarity. No one likes to sleep in a hotel room even if they are living a life of luxury.
Nothing motivates a team more than when their backs are against the wall. No, not John Wall, just a regular one. All jokes aside, the Wizards looked like they came to play. Granted, the Wizards won every first quarter in this series. Normally that translates into wins unless the Celtics have different plans. The key for the Wizards was keeping that momentum up throughout the whole game. They could not let Isaiah Thomas just walk through and hit shot after shot. The team had this vibe like they had nothing left to lose anymore and wanted to put out a good performance. Luckily for Wizards fans, that actually did happen.
No one can write an article about Game 3 without mentioning the fight. Yes, that was the brawl of the Kellys. The fight showed frustration, which is normally not a good thing in a basketball game. When players get frustrated their play normally declines, but in this case it gave the Wizards the added energy they lacked to finish the game like what happened in Game 1 and 2. Now if the fight did not occur, Washington probably would have won the game anyway. The scuffle between the two Kellys sure did bring a whole new energy to this series though.
Defense is the key to winning in every sport. The Wizards dominated the boards in Game 3 and that changes everything. When a team can completely dominate in the rebound department they are poised to win. The Wizards had 50 rebounds on the night and the Celtics had 38. Now that number may not seem like much, but a double-digit lead in rebounding is huge. Not many teams will get 50 rebounds in a given game. That is an average of just over a rebound per minute.
Winning the turnover battle is just as important as winning the rebounding battle. When a team stays under double-digit turnovers, they are in really good shape. Also if a team can force double-digit turnovers they also have a really good chance at winning. When both of those turnover battles are won, it is really difficult to lose that game. The Celtics turned the ball over 16 times compared to the Wizards 9. If a team keeps the ball in their hands they have a better shot at winning the basketball game, plain and simple.
Like a broken record, hitting free throws is the recipe for success. When a team has a high free throw percentage they have a good opportunity to win a basketball game. During Game 3 Washington shot 88% from the foul line. That is the highest percentage the Wizards have had all series. Meaning the team played very well.
Overall, the Washington Wizards hit on the three most important parts of basketball, winning the rebounding, turnover, and free throw battles. If they can continue to do this, Boston may have their hands full. Hopefully, there are no more fights in this series because that really does take away from the basketball. It is alright to get angry at an opponent, but the way to get back at them is by playing better. The storyline behind Game 3 should have been about the stellar team basketball the Wizards played, instead it was about a silly scuffle between two guys named Kelly. This series will continue to be entertaining; hopefully there are more thrillers like Game 2 though, instead of a blowout like Game 3.