BOSTON (AP) — Washington Wizards coach Scott Brooks stated the obvious at his team’s practice on Monday.
“Their 3-point shooting is a problem,” Brooks said of the Boston Celtics, who tied a franchise record with 19 treys in Sunday’s 123-111 victory over the Wizards in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven is at TD Garden Tuesday night.
Back on May 3, 2002, the Celtics made 19 3-pointers in a 120-87 rout of the Philadelphia 76ers that clinched a best-of-five playoff series. On Sunday, Boston was 19 of 39 on its 3-pointers, including 10 of 19 in the second half and 4 of 6 in the fourth quarter.
“We have to do a better job of knowing which ones of those guys are shooters and make them put the ball on the floor,” Wizards guard John Wall, who had 20 points and dished out 16 assists in the loss, told reporters at practice.
“We can live with contested twos, we can live with contested shots at the rim, but to make spot-up threes … that’s what this team does. We know they’re going to shoot a lot and they (hit) more than what they shot in the regular season.”
Added fellow guard Bradley Beal: “We gave up 19 threes, on the road. … It’s just a matter of us defending, man.”
The Celtics became the first team this playoff season and the eighth ever to hit at least 15 treys in back-to-back games — nothing unusual for a team that lives and dies with the 3-pointer. They went 16 of 39 in their elimination win at Chicago on Friday night.
Isaiah Thomas went 5 of 11 from 3-point range in a 33-point, nine assist effort in Game 1 — all coming after he arrived back in town in the wee hours of the Sunday morning after attending his sister’s funeral. It was his third 30-point game out of seven in this season’s playoffs.
Thomas lost a tooth thanks to an inadvertent elbow from Washington forward Otto Porter, picked it up and went on to lead his team to the important win. On Monday, he was at the dentist having work done as his team practiced.
“He’s finishing up the dental work that he’s had,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said after practice. “It’s pretty significant as you can imagine. So he’s still in a dentist’s chair and will hopefully be able to come over later in the afternoon, kind of go through what we did (at practice), and go from there. But he did not practice.”
On Sunday, Thomas said he was going for a steal when he took the elbow that knocked the tooth out.
“I’ve taken a thousand hits like that and my tooth never came out,” Thomas said. “I always said pain is temporary. We’ll worry about it when the time comes.”
While Stevens knows he will have Thomas for Game 2, Brooks still can’t be sure forward Markieff Morris, who sprained his left ankle coming down on Celtics center Al Horford‘s foot after Horford fouled him, will be available.
“I’m playing tomorrow. It’s final,” said Morris, who didn’t practice Monday, sitting on the bench getting treatments. He said Horford apologized, telling him “My fault” after Morris went down after playing just 8:09.
Brooks said he will not have backup center Ian Mahinmi (calf) back until at least Friday’s Game 3 and indicated fellow big man Jason Smith, who played only nine minutes in Game 1 and has also been dealing with a calf problem, would get more minutes in Game 2.
“We just gotta do a better job of making things difficult for these guys. They can make shots. They’ve got guys that can score the ball,” Wall said. “Al Horford had a heck of a game. He’s basically their point guard when we trapped Isaiah — he gave the ball to Al and he did a great job finding teammates, making plays down the stretch.
“Even when we made runs, those guys made a barrage of threes.”
Horford, who didn’t have a point or a rebound and handed out one assist in the first quarter, just missed a triple-double. He finished with 21 points, a playoff career-high 10 assists and nine rebounds in the victory.
“He’s one of the best all-around bigs in the game,” said Brooks. “Top two or three passing big (man) in the league … and he shoots threes.”