Celtics take scoring load off Thomas

BOSTON • The Washington Wizards did everything they could to keep Isaiah Thomas from having a big game on Wednesday. But they forgot to cover Avery Bradley and the rest of the Celtics, leaving Boston a win away from reaching the National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference finals.

"We had no answers for those guys," Washington coach Scott Brooks said after Bradley torched the Wizards for 25 of his career play-off high 29 points in the first half to help the Celtics take Game Five 123-101 .

"We've done a pretty good job on their best player, but not (a) good enough job on the other guys."

Up 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, top-seeded Boston can advance to meet the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers with a win tonight in Washington (tomorrow morning, Singapore time) or on Monday at home.

Thomas took only four shots in the first half. But Bradley went 10 of 13 from the floor and four of five from three-point range before the break as the Celtics used a 16-0 first-quarter burst to take control.

"It can't just be Isaiah Thomas every night," Bradley said. "Tonight it happened to be me. Next game it could be (guard) Marcus Smart."

The Celtics and Wizards have played nine times this season. The home team has won all nine games, with Boston 5-0 at the TD Garden.

Thomas, who told backcourt mate Bradley before the game that he would have a big night, scored eight straight points in the fourth quarter to finish with 18. He also dished out nine assists.

"As a basketball player, you've just got to read what the defence is giving you," said Thomas.

"I was just trying to do whatever I could to win tonight, knowing that they were putting a lot of pressure on me and putting two, three guys on me at all times. Next game I might drop 40. You never know."

John Wall led the Wizards with 21 points, and Bradley Beal had 16. But the Washington guards combined to go 14 of 36 from the floor and two of seven from three-point range. Otto Porter added 13 points, and Marcin Gortat grabbed 11 rebounds.

Washington's Kelly Oubre Jr, who was suspended for Game Four after running into Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk, heard chants about himself before he entered the game in the second quarter. He was booed every time he touched the ball or committed a foul.

He had 13 points and claimed to have heard an expletive-laced chant in the fourth quarter.

Said team-mate Markieff Morris: "It's Boston, man. You've got to be prepared for anything."

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2017, with the headline 'Celtics take scoring load off Thomas'. Print Edition | Subscribe