No one said it was going to be easy Kelly.
The Wizards are a championship caliber team at home and it was quite evident in Game 3. They came out pressuring the Celtics and playing physical 1 on 1 man defense. The Celtics failed to match their energy, and the Wizards momentum took them out of their game-plan. Isaiah Thomas struggled to make plays out of the pick & roll The Washington Wizards went on a 22-0 run during the first half. The Celtics could not withstand such a run. John Wall and the Wizards led by that number for most of the game.
Despite the blowout win for the Wizards, I look for the Celtics to have a much better performance for Game 4. Game 3 should set the stage for a bounce-back game, in Game 4. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Celtics will win, but they definitely will come out with a lot more energy.
Brad Stevens needs to figure out how to create driving lanes for IT4, the Wizards pick & roll coverage (Game 3) was impeccable. Getting Isaiah Thomas off the ball will be crucial in the Celtics half-court offense. What we need to see is Avery Bradley facilitating more, like he did in the Chicago series. And when he was facilitating great things were happening offensively.
The Wizards have figured out the IT & Al Horford pick & roll combination, and Stevens has to do a better job of putting them in better situations. Again, having Isaiah Thomas off the ball will help and having someone like Avery facilitate is not a terrible suggestion.
A lineup change has been rumored for Game 4, and hopefully the man for the job is Jaylen Brown. The starting lineup could really use someone as long and athletic as him. And if they can put him in situations where he is taking to the rim, the starting unit will run like a well-oiled machine. If Jaylen is able to get to the rim at will, there is no chance the Wizards are winning this game. This starting unit is screaming for a player who will take it to the rim viciously. Defensively, Brown fits the bill and has the ability to rebound down low. It only makes sense to start Jaylen Brown.
Jaylen and the second unit never really meshed well, so it’s best to start him. While you have Jaylen starting you lose nothing on the bench. As you essentially have: Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Kelly Olynyk, and maybe Gerald Green/Jonas Jerebko. If the bench can keep up the production its been producing (albeit last game) the Celtics will be in really good shape.
Despite the X’s and O’s of basketball, it didn’t seem like Celtics wanted it. Washington came out and delivered their best punch, and the Celtics could not respond. The Celtics will need to match their energy and efficiency tonight if they want a chance. Washington has made it clear that it is going to be a physical and chirpy series, The Celtics need to find an answer to that. Defensively there coverages need to be a split-second quicker, and all 5 guys need to be on a string. The Wizards losing Kelly Oubre hurts for them because he is someone who can knock shots down and play decent 1 on 1 defense. The Celtics can’t let guys like Bogdanovic and Porter have break-out games or it will highly decrease their chances of winning Game 4.
To steal Game 4 the Celtics to need to improve the 3 E’s. Their execution, efficiency, and energy all need to be on another level to give themselves an opportunity to steal Game 4.