Ugh. That's not how I wanted that game to transpire. The first half was all great, but the second half was a disaster, and the Wizards won only because Boston is so woefully terrible. Great teams blow out terrible teams, and the Wizards failed to blow out a horrible team on their own homecourt tonight.
It's sad to see how bad a once proud basketball franchise has become. The Celtics had a chance to take the lead with under a minute left in regulation, but couldn't execute a remedial 4 on 1 fastbreak. That tells you all you need to know about them. Of their supposed great young players, I'd say that only Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, and Rajon Rondo will have much value in this league. Everyone else is good by default. And yet, the Wizards had to come back in the fourth quarter after blowing that 21 point lead, and had to sweat out one final posession before they won in overtime. That's not a good sign.
It's hard to believe this, but Eddie Jordan may have been outcoached by Doc $%$#$# Rivers tonight. The Celtics made their big comeback in the third quarter, right when Jordan went with his small lineup and replaced Brendan Haywood with Jarvis Hayes. This happened, mind you, at 5:52 in the third quarter! Naturally, as any smart coach would do, Rivers fed Al Jefferson the ball every play, and Jefferson dominated Hayes and Jamison with 10 points in the last half of the quarter. Jefferson also opened up shots for Allan Ray and Ryan Gomes after the Wizards doubled. Jordan countered by replacing Jamison with Etan Thomas, but it didn't get any better. After Jamison replaced Hayes (finally!), it still didn't turn around. It was only after Jordan reinserted Haywood with 5:40 in the fourth that the Wizards came back. That means the Wizards played over a quarter's length of time without their best post defender against a team that was killing them inside. And you wonder why the Wizards blew a huge lead.
As we learn from Popcorn Machine, Haywood was +20 tonight, and Hayes and Thomas were a combined -17. Hayes himself was -13 after he came in midway through the third, and the lineup of Arenas-Stevenson-Butler-Hayes-Jamison was -7. Seriously, how can you rationalize playing a small lineup, especially against a team looking to feed their big man? Eddie Jordan's inability to grasp this nearly lost the Wizards this game.
Also, Arenas struggled again, shooting 10 for 26 after a hot start. The Celtics put Rajon Rondo on him, and the rookie did a great job of frustrating Arenas. Speedy point guards like Rondo are quickly becoming Arenas' kryptonite, and Rondo joins Tony Parker and Kirk Hinrich as players who fit the mold of the Arenas stopper. It's a good thing that Chicago is probably the only Eastern Conference contender with one of those guys in the lineup (unless you could Jameer Nelson of Orlando, who fits the mold, but hasn't produced the results). Give Rondo credit, but Arenas is too good to be shut down by a rookie.
Look, it's a win, and that's nice, but there's been no evidence proving that consistently winning close games is a skill, and sooner or later, the Wizards inability to put teams away will catch up to them. Remember, it's the process, not the results, at this point in the season.