Celtics v. Wizards: Is the Heated Rivalry Going Too Far?


It seemed destined to come down to this given the way these two played against each other earlier in the season. The series, somehow tied at 2-2, has been dominated by the Wizards every game so far, even in the ones they lost. John Wall has led the momentum-driven Wizards to their last two home wins while Isaiah Thomas and the rest of the team watched — literally.

As a Celtics fan, these past two games have been frustrating, but how can it not be when we see a bunch of green jerseys hang around the rim and watch as Marcin Gortat pads his rebounding stats? Although I have my issues with the Celtics apparent lack of effort, and, not to mention, their general manager Danny Ainge’s inaction to pick up talent before the trade deadline, we can’t talk about this series without talking about the pure brutality and physical playing style of both teams.

The physicality — actually, let’s call it what it is — the fighting between these two teams started well before this series. Back in November when they first met this season, Marcus Smart and John Wall got into a bit of a back-and-forth, ending with John Wall getting ejected from the game and telling Smart to “meet [him] out back.” Later in January before these two teams met again, the Wizards’ players claimed they would wear all black to the game, “like a funeral,” to which Isaiah Thomas responded, “That’s cute.” During that game, Celtics’ Jae Crowder poked John Wall in the nose, resulting in a brief shove-fest between benches. The season-long trash-talk and aggressive playing style between these teams was destined to continue and escalate during the postseason.

Now here we are with at least two games left in this series and even more at stake with the winner heading to the Eastern Conference Finals. With a grand total of nine technical fouls, three ejections, one suspension, one lost tooth and multiple scuffles and trash-talk between players, this series has not failed to prove the lack of sportsmanship in the rivalry between the Celtics and Wizards this season. Washington’s Markieff Morris claims it’s just their aggressive playing style. “As long as we win, we don’t care how it goes,” Morris said after Game 3. Atlanta Hawks’ Paul Millsap can attest to this, after noting the Wizards’ play style seemed more like MMA than basketball. But the Wizard’s – Hawks series didn’t go the way this one has been, not as many tussles or fighting words between players.

What it comes down to is just poor sportsmanship on both benches. Sure it’s fun to have rivalries and trash-talk, but when those escalate to free shots, ejections or injuries, they can affect the flow of the game and interrupt each team’s path to their season long goal. It’s hard to stay level-headed when mentality is a huge part of the game, and I don’t want to point fingers at whoever’s fault it is, but when I throw on the game I just want to watch basketball. I highly doubt all those fans in the stands paid to watch people shove each other and shoot free throws all game.

The series will play out with games in both Boston and D.C and we can be sure to see more aggressiveness towards opposing players. With the recent momentum and overall surplus of talent the Wizards have, they look to take the series lead in Boston for Game 5. Kelly Oubre, who was ejected after shoving Kelly Olynyk to the ground in Game 3 and also suspended in Game 4, will be back in the lineup for the Wizards, meaning Olynyk better watch his back. Needless to say, this series is forming a heated rivalry that I think will be present in future seasons. For now, all us fans can do is sit back and watch the madness on the cour

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