By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Marcin Gortat has reason to feel good about himself after Thursday night. But the Wizards big man sure talked a big game for someone whose team is still losing a series.
Gortat dominated the glass in the Wizards’ 116-89 win to cut the Celtics’ playoff series lead to 2-1, pulling down 16 rebounds to go along with 13 points and a block. He was a plus-22 on the night and generally had his way with the Celtics’ big men at both ends of the floor.
So he decided to throw a little bit of shade at the C’s in his postgame presser.
When asked about how much he’s had to battle against the physicality of the Celtics’ bigs, Gortat scoffed at the idea of them being any tougher to deal with than the Hawks’ Dwight Howard, who he faced in the first round of the playoffs.
“For me personally, I mean there’s nothing even close to – about the toughness – there’s nothing even close to as it was in the first round for me, going against Dwight Howard and now going against their bigs. I mean, it’s not even close,” said Gortat. “I feel very confident. I have a lot of confidence now, a lot of energy. I’m going to go out there and just battle.”
In fairness to Gortat, it’s true. He has been battling and playing well down low the whole series, averaging 14.3 points, 13 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in the three games so far. It’s no secret that he’s the most talented big man in the series and the Celtics don’t have anyone who plays nearly like Dwight Howard. In fact, the Celtics could have used a player like Gortat all season.
The real difference Thursday night wasn’t just Gortat, it was that the Wizards played harder and tougher as a team, while the Celtics shot poorly for the full 48 minutes and couldn’t overcome the Wizards locking down Isaiah Thomas (13 points on 3-for-8 shooting). Gortat can talk all he wants – the series is much better off with stuff like this than without it – but he’s still getting ahead of himself a little bit.
In case Gortat doesn’t realize (he probably does), the Wizards are still down 2-1 in the series. They need to repeat Thursday night’s effort in Game 4 on Sunday, or else his comments will end up sounding kind of silly in retrospect.
Gortat obviously has a right to feel confident about his game right now. He added: “I don’t care. I’m just going to go attack the glass every time. They have to stop me.”
But the Celtics could still use these comments as motivation to play better. They still have plenty of time to elevate themselves against Gortat and play better than they have. Gortat’s comments weren’t horrible, but they still just reeked of the Jets beating the Patriots in Week 2 and declaring “This division runs through us!”
Thursday was a huge win for the Wizards and they looked unbeatable for stretches, but the series is far from over. They’re going to need a lot more than just Gortat playing (and talking) tough to win three of the next four possible games.
98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak & Bertrand talked about Gortat’s postgame comments on Friday. Listen to the full podcast below:
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at email@example.com.