In a corner of the visitors locker room, a hole in the wall stared at anyone who walked past - another product, perhaps, of all the Boston Celtics frustration Tuesday night. Without glancing at the wall, Jae Crower moped by like he still couldn't shake himself out a postgame haze.

The Celtics used to fancy themselves the baddest guys in sneakers, but need to dig deep into their memories these days to recall a time their defense struck with force. Even after days of trash talk with the Washington Wizards, the Celtics lay down on the floor as John Wall and Bradley Beal danced on their stomachs. After getting trampled again, 123-108, the Celtics reminisced on all they used to be.

"I remember last year, dudes didn't like playing against us," recalled Isaiah Thomas, who led his team with 25 points and 13 assists in defeat. "Even after games, my friends on different teams would be like, 'Man, you guys played way too hard for us. You guys were in us, you guys were physical.' We don't have that presence anymore. We need to get it back."

If the Celtics can still summon a mighty defensive effort, one would have expected it Tuesday. Their beef with Washington dates back at least to last season, and the Wizards took the bitterness to a new, weird level this week by deciding to wear all-black funeral attire to the game. Even for those who saw humor in the tactic, the message was obvious: the Wizards intended to bury the Celtics.