Published: Mon, May 15, 2017
Sport | By Noel Norman

Boston move one win away from Eastern Conference Finals


After losing the first two games of the series in Boston, the Wizards cruised to victories in Washington in both Game 3 and Game 4.

The Celtics have a chance to end their Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Wizards on Friday night. They won't need such a dominant surge to force a Game 7, but they will need a better effort than what they delivered Wednesday.

The Celtics have been whopped on the road in both games this series, but controlled their home court to pull ahead of the Wizards 3-2.

Al Horford delivered 19 points on 8 of 9 shooting and had seven assists and six rebounds while the Wizards concentrated on stopping Isaiah Thomas.

The Celtics run marked the fourth time in the series that a team has run off at least 16 straight points, three of those times happened in the first quarter.

After the score was tied at 12 midway through the first quarter, the Wizards went on a 22-0 run, put the game out of reach, and cruised to a 116-89 victory on Thursday night at Verizon Center. John Wall finished second in the National Basketball Association in steals and second in assists this season while averaging 23.1 points per game, but he's rarely (if ever) called a two-way player.

The Celtics went 16-for-33 from 3-pointers and became the sixth team in National Basketball Association history with at least 10 treys in six straight playoff games.

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Oubre returned to action in Game 5 after serving a suspension in Game 4 for charging at the Celtics' Kelly Olynyk and knocking him to the ground by burying his forearm in the big man's chest in Game 3. Boston only had seven possessions in Game 5 in which Wall was tabbed as the closest defender, limiting his opportunities to make plays on the ball.

But if you watched the game, you know Horford's scoring only tells part of the story.

Game 5 was never in doubt. Brooks said, "and a lot of times your bench always plays better at home".

John Wall was asked about the game and said, "They were the most physical team tonight". So they nearly doubled that output - not to mention the Celtics held the Wizards to almost half their own Game 4 total. You just have to be prepared. After going down 0-2 in the series, John Wall and the Wizards kicked the Celtics in the teeth to even things up in back-to-back blowout wins.

Boston would prefer for this trend to continue, but the Wizards have five good reasons to remain confident ahead of Game 6. "What I'm trying to do is just give other guys space, space for others and also be a good screen setter".

Wall said after the Celtics' 123-101 win that the vulgarity took him by surprise.

But in this series, as it was during the regular season, the home town has won every game. "We stick behind him". With a 3-2 series deficit, they are one loss away from hitting the golf courses. The Wiz will likely stick with their plan and force IT to give the ball up, because he's too unsafe when he's able to get the shots he wants. If Washington is to buck that trend, it needs to hustle to make plays at home Friday night and have that carry over to Monday night at TD Garden. The Thunder were eliminated by the Rockets at Houston in Game 5 of the first round. The Boston Celtics are shooting 37.5 percent from beyond the arc and 75.7 percent from the free throw line.

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