It’s never easy for Celtics on back-to-backs. After the past three years, through hell and high water, that has been the story with this franchise. Tonight was no exception, as the Celtics escaped Washington D.C. with a three-point victory against the frontrunner for worst team in the Eastern Conference this year.
Before I get too negative, let’s look at the bright side for a little bit here. The Celtics got their first victory of the season tonight. That’s a good thing. More often than not they have tended to collapse late and give away these road games against underwhelming opponents (whether it’s Game 3 or 43) and although they tried tonight, it did not happen. Paul Pierce broke out of his shooting funk from last night to lead the charge with 27 points, Kevin Garnett was smooth from the outside (15 points) and Jared Sullinger got the start and did some nice work on the glass (7 rebounds) during over a career-high 30 minutes of action.
Unfortunately, that’s all the positivity I’m feeling at this point. The C’s jumped out to a 19-2 lead in the first quarter and made the strong start seem like a distant memory by the time the clock hit zero in Washington. The Wizards’ bench combined for 62 of their 86 points, behind stellar efforts from Jordan Crawford and Kevin Seraphin as they chipped away at a C’s lead over the final 42 minutes of the game, before falling short over the final two minutes in their home opener.
The result may have turned out differently if Crawford, who was controlling the game offensively for Washington for the first three quarters, didn’t pull up with a leg injury early in the fourth quarter. He returned to the game late, but looked hobbled. The likes of Jannero Pargo and Cartier Martin kept the Wizards close while Crawford was out but the duo couldn’t put the exclamation point on a comeback for the hosts.
I’ll dig into this one more later tonight (with full grades) but for now, the things to remember are:
1. The newcomers are still struggling.
2. The defense is still an issue.
3. There is plenty to work to be done for Doc and company over the next three days in both of these departments.
However, one thing we can all take solace in: the Lakers are 0-3 and the Celtics are not. Enjoy your Saturday night folks.