Boston Celtics: 3 takeaways after huge play-in tournament win over Washington

NBA Boston Celtics Kemba Walker (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
NBA Boston Celtics Kemba Walker (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Boston Celtics
NBA Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) /

3 Takeaways from the Boston Celtics Gutsy Performance against the Washington Wizards.

After what started out as a grind-it-out, ugly, nervous, play-in tournament game, the Boston Celtics took over against the Washington Wizards as the night went on. After seeing the end of the first quarter, it was shocking to see that each team ended up scoring over 100 points.

Heading into the game, there was clear concern surrounding the Celtics. Obviously, the biggest concern was having to play without Jaylen Brown, who had season-ending surgery a couple of weeks ago. Brown had been the Celtics’ best player early on in the season and was a great compliment to Celtics star player Jayson Tatum.

Brown provides you with offense on and off the ball and is a tenacious defender. Although Boston struggled all year it seemed, it’s never good to be down one of your best players heading into the postseason. With Brown being out, you know Tatum has to have a great game, and someone else will have to play above their caliber or provide a spark.

Another concern was their opponent, the Wizards. More specifically, Russell Westbrook. If there was ever a game where it lined up for the favorite to lose to the underdog, it would be against Russell Westbrook. Westbrook plays with a chip on each shoulder and always feels as if you’ve wronged him and he’s seeking revenge.

Not to mention Bradley Beal has put together a nice season for himself, and them together could upset someone especially when we’re talking about a play-in game. Washington has long guards that you can throw at Tatum, players such as Rui Hachimura, Chandler Hutchinson, and even Isaac Bonga. Those are some tall, lanky wings you can throw at Tatum whenever Beal and Westbrook aren’t guarding him. They could possibly wear him out and make him uncomfortable.

My last concern I said to myself for the Celtics was, “What Celtics team will show up?” All year long it’s been a constant back and forth of the Celtics looking like they can challenge a team like the Sixers or Nets. Then the next night they look incredibly soft, realize they don’t have a real “closing group” and lose to the Thunder who are tanking. If the soft team shows up, the play-in game and the rest of their season will be over.

My concerns were legitimate going into the game, so I thought. The Celtics came out and looked somewhat flat. To be fair, so did the Wizards. The first half was filled with back and forth, foul trouble, bad transition defense. Not to mention mental lapses from both teams, I counted three times in the first half that Washington gave up a bucket on a side out of bounds on a straight-line drive in the first half.

Beal had a slow first quarter as he was noticeably nursing a hamstring injury, he picked it up in the second quarter scoring 11 points after getting a couple of tough mid-range buckets mixed in with a few cheap buckets in transition. Other than Beal and Tatum, describing this game as a “rock fight” is an understatement, then the third quarter happened.

Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker went berserk. Kemba stepped up in the absence of Brown, and Tatum was unstoppable on offense. Tatum ended up with 50 points, 17-17 from the free-throw line, and a plus-minus of 25. Kemba was excellent on offense and made more than a handful of winning plays including taking multiple charges and grabbing a few rebounds in traffic, which at his size is insane.

There are three takeaways from this game that I’ll get into that were 100 percent the difference in the contest. That’s what we’re going to delve into in this piece.