The Wizards and Celtics have played some chippy games recently, so when Washington hosted Boston on Tuesday night, John Wall and friends had a plan: they wore all black to the game, thus creating a funeral-like atmosphere for the Celtics.
Washington won, 123-108.
“I like the fact that they came together, doing things together, because that’s something we’ve been talking about all year and I think it’s starting to happen, so that’s good,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “When I played, when I was with the Knicks, in the playoffs we decided we were going to shave our heads bald. Everybody. You and I, with the bald head, didn’t look good – or at least it didn’t look good on me. But with the athletic players on the team with the Knicks, it didn’t look too bad. But hey, it made for (some fun for) a game in January, which can be dog days in the NBA.”
Wall and Celtics forward Jae Crowder had an altercation in their last matchup, a 117-108 Boston win on Jan. 11.
The Wizards were not going to let the Celtics push them around Tuesday. Washington has now won 14 straight home games and has the fourth-best record in the NBA since Dec. 3.
“It could easily have just been another game,” Brooks said. “I try to get our guys to always believe (that) every game is important – 82 games – and have that mentality. But we know it’s a long season. There’s ups and downs of a season. There’s some games that you just don’t have it, for whatever reason.
“But this put a lot of pressure on us,” Brooks continued, laughing. “It was like we had no choice. You’re going to bring it. After bringing up let’s wear back, you can’t lay an egg. I give our guys credit. They brought it, played well for 48 minutes. I thought we controlled the game. This all goes back to the last time we played Boston. Boston’s a good team. We’re both trying to establish ourselves as a playoff team and they’re probably going to do the same and maybe have some playoff success for their next jump. But we were in control of the game in Boston, and in the second half they kind of took it to us, got physical and they ended up winning the game. So we wanted to make sure that we weren’t going to take that anymore. We were going to play physical throughout the start and throughout the game.”
Wall and Bradley Beal were excellent for Washington (25-20). They combined for 58 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds, five steals and shot 23-of-38 (60.5 percent) from the floor.
Wall is averaging 23.1 points, 10.1 assists and 4.6 rebounds on the season, while Beal is averaging 21.9 points, 3.6 assists and 2.9 rebounds. They are co-existing like never before.
“Well, I heard and read about all the things that everybody else has,” said Brooks, who was hired last April, “and I knew going in to a new team that I wanted to establish one thing: that we will have to play together and play for each other. We’re not just teammates. We’re going to have to make it a brotherhood. I’ve been on a lot of teams where we were just teammates. We weren’t nothing other than we both signed the same contract with the same team. When you have that situation, you’re not going to have success because there’s times in every single game that you have to dig deep into your gut and fight for your team and fight for you teammates.
“So going into this summer, I knew that we had to establish that,” Brooks continued. “Being around the two, I know they’re great guys. I didn’t bring (their history) up to them. I just knew going forward here’s what we have to do, and I think they’ve been great together. John is having his All-Star year, and Brad is right there.”
Brooks communicated open and honestly with Wall and Beal individually and together. He said there were some “tough conversations.”
“This team is only going to work if you guys buy into playing together and playing with everything you can do and helping your teammates have success,” Brooks recalled telling the dynamic duo. “You guys both are good enough to have 20-point nights without me running a play for you. But what’s going to separate us and you two as being one of the best backcourts (is) can you guys make your teammates feel like they’re better than they are? Can you help them score? Can you help them feel good about their game? I give them credit. They have. We do drills together. We try to have a good, competitive, fun atmosphere. We’re not always serious and all uptight. We want to make sure that everybody is connected and everybody feels good about playing the game that we all should feel good about. It’s a game, we love it, and we try to create that environment.”
The Wizards, seeded fifth in the East, play Atlanta (26-19) on the road this Friday at 8 p.m. ET.