The Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards are two teams that really don’t like each other, that much is certain. Dating back to the infamous ‘funeral game‘ in January, the two teams have been embroiled in tense affairs for the entirety of their regular season match-ups, with both teams winning twice.
You don’t stick your finger in another man’s face. Period.
And John Wall certainly ain’t that guy, Jae Crowder. pic.twitter.com/pdnb2zXCtr
— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) January 12, 2017
And now, the two will meet in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, setting the NBA world on high alert.
Boston found their rhythm late in their first round match-up with the Chicago Bulls after the eighth seed had taken a 2-0 lead heading back to Chicago. However, injury struck the Bulls hard as Rajon Rondo, who had dominated on both ends in the first two games, suffered a fractured thumb that saw him sidelined for the rest of the series. As a result, the Celtics unlocked their opposition’s defense, sitting Amir Johnson and bringing in Gerald Green, stretching the floor and allowing Isaiah Thomas to attack the paint at will.
The Celtics admirably battled through tragedy, as Thomas learnt on the eve of the postseason of the passing of his sister, Chyna. They fought hard, dug deep and won four games straight to clinch their first series win with coach Brad Stevens on the bench.
Washington, on the other hand, rode the coattails of superstar John Wall’s individual success as he carried his side to the second round after dismantling the Atlanta Hawks in six games. Wall averaged some supreme numbers in the first round; 29.5 points on 47.5-percent shooting from three, 10.3 assists and 1.7 steals per contest.
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) April 29, 2017
The Wizards took a convincing 2-0 lead in the series only for Atlanta to even up the series on home court after a lacklustre showing from Washington in games three and four. However, their backcourt carried them through as Wall took over in Game 6, notching a remarkable 42 points on 25 shots to go with eight assists and four steals.
More production will be expected from Wall’s supporting cast, he simply can’t do it alone. Bradley Beal, despite averaging 25.8 points per game against the Hawks, only shot 26.5-percent from three. As one of their best marksmen, this will not suffice against a team that boasts tenacious perimeter defense.
Boston meanwhile will be hoping that they can continue to stretch the floor, allowing Thomas to drive inside or find open shooters on the perimeter, a game plan they executed so deftly in the final four games of their first round series.
The Celtics played their brand of ball and finished with the W, 105-83, to close out the Bulls in Game 6. pic.twitter.com/0JhRm4iYS7
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 29, 2017
Their opponents will be looking to pinpoint Thomas’ weak defense. Wall and Beal’s partnership will likely prove too much to handle, so expect them to act as the Wizards most potent offensive threat.
However, the second unit was a significant problem for the Wizards in the first round, a problem they thought they had solved after a handful of trades in midseason. Going up against one of the deepest rosters in the Celtics will be a rather tall order for Washington, and they may struggle considerably.
Although Wall’s playmaking ability and superstar form will likely scare the Celtics, Boston should have the resolve to see off the challenge and advance once again.
Prediction: Celtics in 6