Malcolm Brogdon is spear-heading the bench unit: 6 takeaways as Celtics take down Wizards

Brogdon's second half and season-high scoring led the Celtics to a big win.

Celtics Wizards
Jayson Tatum of the Celtics reacts with Marcus Smart after hitting a 3-point shot. Photo by Nick Grace/Getty Images

The Celtics snapped a two-game skid by blowing out the Wizards 112-94 on Sunday.

Here’s what happened.

The Big Picture

The Celtics started lightning-hot, which has been a recent trend. Jaylen Brown scored 16 points in the first quarter, while Jayson Tatum posted 11. Together, they outscored the Wizards by 12 as the Celtics built a 34-15 lead after one period.

In the second, however, the Wizards started chipping away (which has also been a recent trend). Jayson Tatum finished the period with four turnovers, and the Wizards grabbed eight offensive rebounds as they pulled the lead down to 58-47 at the break.

The Wizards hung around for much of the third quarter as well, despite torturously bad 3-point shooting, but Malcolm Brogdon helped break the game open in the third, and the Celtics built their lead back to 19 entering the fourth. The Celtics cruised the rest of the way and emptied their bench late in the period.

Star of the Game

Malcolm Brogdon — 23 points, 6-for-12 from the field (3-for-5 from 3-point range), 8-for-8 from the free-throw line, four rebounds


Brogdon put together one of the game’s best box-score lines, but more importantly, he led a crucial charge by scoring nine straight points at the end of the third quarter that turned a shaky lead into a big one entering the fourth. Brogdon scored 16 of his points in the second half.

What It Means

The Celtics snapped back to winning after a pair of eyebrow-raising losses to the Bulls and Cavaliers and looked much more like themselves while doing it. Next up? A shot at revenge against the Cavs on Wednesday.


1. After all of the (justified!) hand-wringing about their defensive struggles in their last two losses, the Celtics allowed just 94 points and 91.9 points per 100 possessions with garbage-time filtered out, per Cleaning the Glass.

Joe Mazzulla told reporters he didn’t see much difference in effort between Sunday’s game and the previous two.

“I saw the same effort that we’ve had the first however-many games we’ve played,” Mazzulla said. “And I saw a commitment to the details and a commitment to the execution on every possession like I told you about before the game.

“Our guys are always going to play hard. We just have to continue to execute and be detailed and more [consistent], and we were tonight.”


2. Part of the reason the Celtics were so successful defensively, of course, was because the Wizards couldn’t make anything from deep. The Wizards were 7-for-32 from behind the arc and were 3-for-23 in the first three quarters as the Celtics built their comfortable lead. Bradley Beal was 1-for-13 from the floor prior to the fourth quarter (he finished 4-for-16).

3. On the exact opposite side of things, the Celtics shot 47 3-pointers and made 21 of them — a healthy 44.7 percent clip, even though Al Horford and Marcus Smart both shot 1-for-5. The rest of the team shot 51.5 percent from deep.

So far this season, the Celtics have shot 40.5 3-pointers per game (third overall behind the Warriors and Jazz), and they have made 39.9 percent of them (third overall behind the Cavaliers and Pelicans). They hoist a ton of triples, but they also make a lot of them.

Even Luke Kornet got in on the action.

“I love 3-pointers,” Mazzulla said. “I like math. I love open threes. I like space. And I think it’s a huge strength of our team.”

4. Kornet continued his new trend of closing out short and trying to distract opposing shooters by jumping early.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year approves of Kornet’s strategy.


“We love it,” Smart said. “It’s Luke man, he’s different. You don’t see a lot of people doing that, and it’s different. I think it catches a lot of people off guard because they are open, and then they see a 7-footer just jump straight up out of nowhere, it’s like, ‘What’s going on?’ So it works, and as long as it’s working, we’re okay with it.”

5. The bench unit pitched in 48 points on Sunday and cashed in nine of the Celtics’ 21 made 3-pointers. The second string has been excellent offensively so far this season — posting ridiculous shooting splits of 50.4/51.5/84.2.

“Just make sure there’s no drop-off,” Hauser said. “Bring energy, play hard, know who you are guarding, know personnel, and know what we’re trying to do on both ends of the floor.”

Who leads that charge?

“Malcolm,” Hauser said instantly.

For his part, Brogdon credited his “great teammates.”

“I think the guys, they respect me and they know I play both ends of the ball,” Brogdon said. “I think you’ve got to practice what you preach before you start preaching, and they’ve seen me give effort on both ends and they’re willing to listen and work with me. For me, having a voice on the bench, it’s trying to rally the guys, rally the energy.”

6. You … have to respect Grant Williams for committing to the bit in his return to the court after his first career suspension.

Williams — who stayed in character for the entirety of his press conference — finished with 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting.


The Celtics face the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.


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