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The Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards have developed into one of the NBA’s most unexpected rivalries in recent seasons after a series of flare-ups between the two teams. As the teams prepare to meet in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Celtics players downplayed the notion of bad blood on the eve of Game 1 but acknowledged the possibilities for tempers to flare again.
“I think it’s just two teams playing hard and there’s a lot of guys on their end that play hard, play nasty, play feisty, and I think we have some guys like that,” said Jae Crowder, who’s been a featured player in many of the Wizards incidents over the past two seasons. “Two teams like that come together, you have little situations and encounters but I think it’s just two teams playing hard.”
Celtics guard Marcus Smart, who has had run-ins with both John Wall and Bradley Beal, said players can’t let emotions take over the series. “[Controlling emotions is] huge. It’s huge,” said Smart. “Everybody’s vital to the team, so we can’t afford to lose anybody.”
As the team continued to win, the name started to stick, the hashtag #DeathRowDC gained life on the social-media platforms of Wall, Beal and Morris – and the Wizards slowly started to embrace that edgier side on the floor. No game exemplified the Wizards’ new attitude more than an otherwise meaningless January game against the Boston Celtics in which they showed up wearing all-black funeral attire with the intent of burying a team that was above them in the standings.
The dustups date to last season. In the teams’ third meeting, in mid-January 2016, Jae Crowder — perhaps the central protagonist in this entire drama — got tagged with a technical foul in the final minute of Boston’s 119-117 win in Washington. Crowder could be seen barking at the Wizards’ bench and pointing at then-coach Randy Wittman. After the game, Crowder suggested Wittman cursed at him and called him soft. “[Wittman] was saying something about me being soft, and bleep, bleep, bleep,” Crowder said. “I feel like he was getting away with a lot of curse words and inappropriate words to me, and I retaliated and I got hit [with the technical].” Wittman later admitted he yelled at Crowder but denied using profanity. There was no obvious escalation when the teams met again two weeks later — a lopsided Boston win — and Wittman was fired after the season.
Bill Doyle: Isaiah Thomas on physical play, trash talk vs.Wizards: We knew it was going to be like that. Those guys don’t like us, we don’t like them.
Bill Doyle: Washington’s John Wall booed mightily in pregame introductions at the Garden.
Jay King: There will be no funeral tonight. John Wall said the Wizards have no special attire planned.
The question is simple, given all that has come before: do the Washington Wizards dislike the Boston Celtics, Bradley Beal? “Yeah,” Beal said last Tuesday, after a beat. “I guess, yeah, you could say that. And they don’t like us. It is what it is. I think we’re all grown men and we’re just able to play ball. It makes it more competitive, right? That’s like playoff basketball halfway through the season. It gives you a little taste and a little foreshadow of what may come.”
J. Michael Falgoust: Beal: “I wanted this win bad” #WizCeltics #BOSatWAS
Candace Buckner: From what I’m gathering if a #Wizards player didn’t wear all black 2nite, he would have to get his head shaved. Or in Gortat’s case – beard
Madelyn Burke: Isaiah Thomas: “That’s cute that they’re wearing all black. It’s definitely no game 7… but if they want to take it that serious they can”
J. Michael Falgoust: Brooks says his team wearing black “doesn’t concern me” #WizCeltics
Celtics forward Jae Crowder and Wizards guard John Wall were both fined after the two engaged in an after-the-buzzer dustup during the teams’ most recent contest. That Jan. 11 meeting culminated with five Boston police officers standing guard between the two locker rooms at TD Garden after players continued to bark at each other upon leaving the court. “We’re wearing all black to the game. You know where we’re going with that,” Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. told reporters in Charlotte, North Carolina, following the Wizards’ 109-99 victory over the Hornets on Monday.
A follow-up question inquired as to whether the Wizards were preparing for a funeral or a war. “We’re ready for whatever,” Oubre said. “We’re wearing all black to the game. It’s a memo that the team is giving away. We’re ready for whatever, man. Round 3, let’s get it.”
Reporters also asked Wall about the dress code, and he responded, “All black everything. A funeral.” Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas laughed off the Wizards’ plans on Tuesday. “That’s cute that they’re wearing all black,” Thomas said, according to CSNMidAtlantic.com. “I just kind of laughed [when I heard]… it’s not like it’s a Game 7.”
Washington Wizards guard John Wall and Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder have been fined for their altercation after Wednesday night’s game, the NBA announced Saturday. During the incident, Crowder, who was fined $25,000 for “a postgame confrontation on the playing court” and for “attempting to escalate the situation after exiting the playing court,” pointed in Wall’s face and made contact with his nose. Wall, who was fined $15,000 for “his role in the confrontation on the court,” retaliated by swinging at Crowder.
J. Michael Falgoust: Wall says he expects a “fat fine” for postgame altercation with Crowder #WizCeltics
After taking a flagrant-2 foul from Wall midway through the fourth quarter of a 118-93 loss Wednesday night, Smart drew a technical foul for bouncing up and informing Wall he did not like the hard hit. “He made a hard foul and I didn’t take too fond of it. So I let him know what I had to say,” Smart said after the game. “I ain’t backing down from nobody and that’s going to be understood from here on out. I don’t know what he thought but I think he got the message.”
Wall was ejected for the incident, which came at an odd time with the Wizards ahead by 20 points late in the game. Smart indicated the two got into it a bit before their heated exchange, which can be seen below. “He said I couldn’t post him up because I posted him up,” Smart said. “And I’ve been posting up little guards all year. So it is what it is.”
On the Wizards broadcast, Wall appeared to say, “Meet me out back,” before retreating to the locker room.
Fox Sports Radio1340: According to John Wall…Jae Crowder confronting him first
J. Michael: Isaiah Thomas walks by: “They can’t F— with a real killer.” Not sure what that means but emotions kinda high. #WizCeltics
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April 30, 2017 | 8:03 pm EDT Update
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