Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 94, Wizards 95

Ford Keys to the Game

Celtics 94, Wizards 95

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

LeBron James, Paul Pierce

Jeff Green soars in for a fast break layup that accounted for two of his team-high 20 points.
Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

The Wizards won tonight’s thrilling contest by outscoring the Celtics by one point in overtime, but believe it or not, the most important moment of the game wasn’t Washington’s final basket. Instead, it was a sequence that took place in the final 21 seconds of the game, when Boston was leading by four points.

Jeff Green and Jermaine O’Neal, who both played absolutely fantastic basketball tonight while the C’s rested four of their starters, missed consecutive shots with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation. Jordan Crawford grabbed the rebound for Washington and the Wizards brought the ball up court while trailing 83-79.

Boston had already experienced one three-point play by John Wall that dealt them a loss in the Verizon Center earlier this season, and they were about to witness another. Wall, Washington’s go-to scorer in crunch time, picked up his dribble near the top of the key while Carlos Arroyo defended him tightly. Wall had nowhere to go with the ball, and as he stepped backward with his right foot he heaved up a desperation shot that came nowhere near the basket. The miss didn’t matter, though, because a phantom foul was called.

Arroyo put his hands straight into the air and may have completely avoided contact with Wall as he tossed up the rushed shot. Boston’s coaching staff and players were shocked at the whistle, and they’ll likely be even more shocked once they see the video. The foul was called, however, and Wall was sent to the line with 21.2 seconds remaining.

A brief pause in the action occurred while the referees reviewed video to determine if Wall’s shot was attempted from beyond the 3-point arc. Oddly enough, as they watched their poor call on replay, the refs were able to see that when Wall stepped backward with his right foot, he cleared the 3-point line. This meant that he would be given three free throws.

Wall went on to hit all three, which left the score at 83-82 with 21.2 seconds remaining. Doc Rivers called for an immediate timeout to draw up an inbound play out of a side-out in the frontcourt.

Rivers’ initial call was to get the ball to Carlos Arroyo, but as Boston ran its play the Wizards defended it to perfection. When Von Wafer was unable to clear himself from his defender, Jeff Green, who was the inbounder, had to use his team’s final timeout in order to avoid a five-second violation. The C’s got the ball in to Wafer on their next attempt and he headed to the line after he was fouled, giving him a chance to put Boston back on top by three with 17.1 seconds remaining. As luck would have it, though, he would make only one of the attempts, giving Washington a fantastic opportunity to send this game into overtime.

The Wizards called timeout and went on to fail to execute their inbound play as well. Instead of getting the ball to Wall, JaVale McGee, the team’s lanky center who is very limited offensively, took the inbound pass and chose to drive to the basket. He threw up an awkward right-handed runner that missed, and several Celtics roamed in for the rebound under the basket. But instead of securing the ball, Boston knocked it out of bounds and gave Washington possession yet again with 8.9 seconds left on the clock.

Without a timeout left in their pocket, this young Wizards team was forced to run a play on the fly to send the game to overtime. Washington got the ball into their most electric scorer’s hands, Jordan Crawford, and he went on to sink a baseline floater from 16 feet out to tie the game up with 5.4 seconds remaining.

Due to the fact that the C’s were forced to burn all of their timeouts when they couldn’t get the ball in on their previous possession, they did not have one left to stop play and advance the ball into the frontcourt. As a result, Arroyo took the inbound pass and opted to toss a bounce pass to Green from halfcourt, rather than heaving up a last-second shot or tossing an alley-oop, and it was broken up.

With that play coming to fruition, overtime was on tap. Washington went on to outscore the C’s by just one point in the extra session, and that left Boston with its first overtime loss of the season despite a gutty performance by their regular bench players.

Key Box Score Line

Doc Rivers has been poking and prodding Jeff Green for weeks now in an attempt to get the young forward’s confidence and aggressiveness to spike heading into the playoffs. Little did Rivers know that all he had to do was give the fourth-year player a spot start.

Boston’s core four rested during tonight’s game in preparation of the playoffs, and as a result Green was given his first start in a Celtics uniform. That simple move set the man on fire.

Green finished tied with Glen Davis for the team-high in points with 20, which also matched the number of field goal attempts he took on the night. Green made only eight of his shots, but as those 20 attempts would indicate, he was at an all-time high in terms of aggressiveness in a Celtics uniform.

On top of his big scoring night, Green also made things happen in nearly every other facet of the game. Rivers had been wanting Green to attack the glass more often, and we’re guessing that his 15 boards tonight, which tied his career high, will surpass his head coach’s hopes. Green also dished out four assists as he operated with a calm demeanor in the post.

At the defensive end of the floor, where he grabbed 11 of his rebounds, Green was also able to grab two steals.

The Celtics didn’t win tonight’s game, but that doesn’t mean this contest wasn’d filled with positives. Seeing Green step up when given the team’s offensive reigns is a true step forward for Boston, and it could be a stepping stone to seeing him contribute in a big way in the playoffs.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Boston sat all four of its regular starters (Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo).
  • Jeff Green and Glen Davis tied for the team-high in points with 20 apiece.
  • John Wall scored a game-high 24 points, highlighted by a 14-of-15 performance from the free-throw line.
  • Green also tied his career-high with 15 rebounds and also dished out four assists.
  • Boston outrebounded Washington 49-46.
  • Two Celtics, Green and Jermaine O'Neal, grabbed double-digit rebounds, while no Wizards player accomplished that feat.
  • The same goes for double-doubles, as Green (20 points, 15 rebounds) and O'Neal (15 points, 13 rebounds) were the only players in the game to notch one.
  • O'Neal also tied JaVale McGee for the game-high in blocked shots with five.
  • Washington blocked 11 shots and Boston blocked 10.
  • All five of Boston's starters scored in double-figures.
  • Delonte West, who left with a right ankle sprain, still led the C's in assists with five.
  • Boston shot 28-of-34 from the free-throw line and Washington shot 25-of-32 from the stripe.
  • Jordan Crawford led the Wizards in assists with six. He also scored 17 points.
  • Maurice Evans started and played nearly 21 minutes but finished with only two points. He was the only starter in the game to not score at least 11 points.
  • The teams combined to make only four 3-pointers (two apiece) while attempting only 12.
  • Boston finished with 21 turnovers, but none of its players committed more than three.
  • All five of Boston's starters finished with a plus/minus rating of at least plus-nine, including a game-high plus-24 by Davis.
  • Washington finished with 13 steals and Boston finished with 10.
  • Both teams scored 24 points in the final quarter to send the game to overtime.
  • Washington outscored Boston by a count of 29-9 in fast break points.

Quote of the Night

Jeff Green on playing tonight's game without four of Boston's starters: "That was the key coming into this game. We knew the Big Four wasn't going to play so it was up to us to come in and try to build chemistry in that second unit and just play hard. You can make a lot of mistakes, but if you give the effort and you make every cur hard, rebound, make the extra effort, it can make up for a lot of things."