Life is easier when your best player does not have to carry the team. In the case of the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, they got a convincing home win in Game 5 without star point guard Isaiah Thomas’ best effort.
It takes a team to win
Avery Bradley scored a postseason career-high 29 points to lead all players in scoring, while Thomas was held to a home playoff low (18).
The Celtics have been leaning on Thomas to lead their offense this season and postseason. Including the playoffs, Thomas has the last 35 30-point games for the Celtics. The last player other than Thomas to score 30 for Boston was Bradley on Oct. 29.
The team effort showed itself most in the defense against Wizards guard John Wall. The Celtics utilized eight different defenders against Wall on Wednesday, holding him to 21 points on 41.2 percent shooting from the field.
Individually, the following stats might not stand out. But when put together, it’s a good representation of how much of a team effort the Celtics put together Wednesday:
Four different players scored at least 15 points.
Five different players made at least two 3-pointers.
Five different players grabbed at least five rebounds.
Three different players recorded at least five assists.
Three different players recorded at least two steals.
Two different players recorded at least two blocks.
A much better start
One major difference in Game 5 for the Celtics was a much better start. In the first two games of the series, Boston had been outscored by 27 combined points in the first quarter and allowed an average of 40 points.
Bradley scored 14 of his 29 points in the game’s opening quarter.
In NBA history, the Game 5 winner of a best-of-seven series tied 2-2 has gone on to win the series 83 percent of the time, putting the odds heavily in Boston’s favor.
However, the Celtics may have to wait until Game 7 to win the series. With Game 6 in Washington, it is important to remember that neither of these teams has won a road game against the other this season and postseason.
The home team has won all five games in this series between Boston and Washington, with the average margin of victory at a tidy 18.0 points per game.