Wizards Anticipate Chippy Battle in Boston
BOSTON – Chippy rivalries have mostly died out over the last couple of decades in the NBA. The feud between the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards is proving to be an exception.
All three matchups between the two squads this season have been physical, hard-nosed battles that have featured 11 technical fouls, an ejection and one post-game scuffle that escalated so far that the police had to be stationed between the two teams’ locker rooms.
There’s no reason to believe the intensity between Boston and Washington will die out tonight. In fact, it could be even stronger as they face off in the season-series finale at TD Garden.
“We both want to win,” Wizards’ leading scorer Bradley Beal said Monday afternoon following his team’s shootaround. “We’re both competitors. We’re both tough teams. We don’t take nothing from nobody. We stand on what we believe in, and if you’re not on our team you’re definitely against us, and they feel the same way.”
Things did not start off on a friendly note for these teams when they met Nov. 9 for the first time in Washington, D.C. John Wall was issued a Flagrant 2 for throwing Marcus Smart to the ground, prompting the pair to step chest-to-chest in the middle of the court before Wall was ejected. The Celtics ended up losing the contest in blowout fashion, 118-93.
Tempers flared again during the second meeting on Jan. 11, which the Celtics won, 117-108. This time, Smart and Beal got into an altercation after becoming tangled up under Washington’s basket. Smart was issued a common foul on the play and Beal received a technical after the pair had to be separated by their teammates and the referees.
Things got even more heated after the game when Jae Crowder poked Wall’s nose during a verbal altercation. It escalated to a mid-court scuffle between multiple members of both teams, and police officers had to be placed in the hallways outside the locker rooms to prevent further incidents from occurring.
The teams’ last meeting on Jan. 24 was referred to by Wall as “a funeral.” He and his teammates wore all black to the arena, and the Wizards backed up their pre-game jabs with a 123-108 win.
Washington is taking a more subdued approach to tonight’s game. Wall said he and his teammates will not be wearing funeral attire tonight when they arrive to TD Garden. He claims the Wizards, who have one less loss than Boston, are more focused on catching up to the C’s in the Eastern Conference standings
“It’s a very important game,” said Wall. “They’re a whole game and a half ahead of us. They’re a team that’s just trying to find a rhythm the same way we are since the All-Star break, and we’ve both been up and down.
“We know what type of game it could be – a physical game, a very important game. We know we beat them twice at home and we came here and they beat us here, so we just have to try to find a way to win the season series.”
Beal anticipates a physical contest as well, but he claims that is not the goal of he and his teammates as they approach tonight’s tip-off.
“It’s two teams competing our butts off,” said Beal. “We’re neck-and-neck right now. It’s always going to get chippy and it’s always going to be physical. But that’s not the type of game that we’re [looking for] and that’s not the type of team that we are. We try to play hard, keep it clean, but try to come out with a win at the end of the day. And they try to do the same.”
Both teams may intend to keep this contest clean, but there is no question that they enter tonight’s game with bad blood. All it takes is one drop to boil, and they could once again find themselves in the midst of a chippy, physical battle.