Late game blunders cost Wizards against Celtics as Deni Avdija plays season-low minutes

Mar 1, 2021 | Deni Avdija

On the second night of a back-to-back, it would have been understandable if the Wizards were unable to continue their recent winning ways against a talented Boston Celtics team. The door was cracked open with Jaylen Brown sitting out with knee soreness and Bradley Beal put Washington firmly in a position to capitalize. Disaster ensued for the road team blowing a 5-point lead with 47 seconds left to play. Deni Avdija played a season-low seven minutes and scored no points while grabbing a rebound and recording a steal.

In prime All-Star starter form, Bradley Beal had 46 points on 16-for-29 shooting including a driving finger roll layup with under a minute to play. Then Jayson Tatum showed his worth as an All-Star starter (replacing Kevin Durant in the lineup) with three straight buckets to give the Celtics the win.

The first two came against poor resistance from Beal and Robin Lopez defending Tatum’s two-man game with Daniel Theis. On the ensuing inbound pass with 15 seconds left and Washington up 1, Russell Westbrook was able to get it to Beal, a 90 percent free-throw shooter, but Beal literally slipped out of bounds on a wet spot just left by Tatum who had fallen to the ground. Tatum would go on to finish at the rim again around the contesting Beal and Rui Hachimura for the game-winning basket with Beal unable to knock down a difficult jump shot over a double team the other way.

“Probably some of the goofiest s— I’ve ever seen in my life,” Beal described the final minute of the game. “Slipped out of bounds, gave Tatum three layups at the end of the game. I’m pissed off. … We got to close that out, we got to win that game. We did everything we could have possibly done to put ourselves in position to win, we got to win. We’re 7-2 in our last 9, it’s great, it should be 8-1.”

Deni Avdija certainly suffers from unfriendly whistles and foul calls from the officiating crews who probably have a perception that rookies should not get the benefit of the doubt. The 20-year old picked up three fouls in less than seven first-half minutes. The first against Jeff Teague was not clear-cut but probably a good call, the second against Semi Ojeleye should not have been called, and the third was probably warranted with Avdija fighting through a screen to stay attached to Tatum. Isaac Bonga received Avdija’s minutes in the rotation in the second half and played well defensively despite missing all five of his open three-pointers.

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Washington Wizards

“Some nights are not going to be your nights,” Scott Brooks alluded to Avdija’s performance. “It wasn’t his night, we play the Memphis Grizzlies then maybe it’s going to be his night. You go through that, but we have to have a defensive presence without fouling. His three fouls in that [first half] didn’t lose us the game, but we had to go without somebody else and Bonga was next man up, works hard for those moments, and thought he played hard, he gave us a chance to win the game.”

The Wizards return home to host the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers to close out the first half of their regular-season schedule on Tuesday.

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