One of the most intriguing regular season match-ups is back!
The Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics are fighting to obtain the number-two seed in the Eastern Conference. This would mean that Washington would receive homecourt advantage in the second round. That is critical for both teams because of their dominance at home.
After losses to sub-.500 teams by both Washington and Boston over the weekend, they are looking to get back in the winners’ circle. And if you haven’t heard already, Washington and Boston have made it clear that they DO NOT like each other. It has made for some very contentious encounters so far.
Wizards’ John Wall ejected for Flagrant 2 foul on Celtics’ Marcus Smart. Appeared to pull him down by the head/shoulders pic.twitter.com/M6SSQqXR2N
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) November 10, 2016
Game 2 went to Boston — thanks to a Herculean effort by Isaiah Thomas in the fourth quarter. He scored 20 of his 38 points in the game to put Boston over the hump. This one also did not lack drama. After the game, Wall and Jae Crowder had an interesting encounter to say the least.
Check out John Wall & Jae Crowder scuffle last night in the Wizards loss to the Celtics. pic.twitter.com/ySg96oUfaS
— DC Maryland Virginia (@DMVFollowers) January 12, 2017
Game 3 was a classic. Not because of the game itself, but because of the all the talk leading up to it. Washington called this game “The funeral“, and literally wore all black to the game to signify that. They made a big statement, and backed it up with their play on the court, winning the game by 15 points.
Welcome to your funeral, Boston. pic.twitter.com/H5tv7rUxci
— WizardsTalk (@WizardsTalk) January 24, 2017
Game 4 of this series would be a lot less interesting without Isaiah Thomas, who is questionable for today’s game with a knee injury.
Brad Stevens says “no new news” on Isaiah Thomas’ knee. Out today vs. Philly and questionable for tomorrow’s game vs. WAS. #NEBHInjuryReport
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 19, 2017
Keys for Washington
If Thomas is cleared to play, Washington needs to make him work on the defensive end. As amazing as Isaiah is on the offensive end of the court, he is equally as poor on the defensive end. He ranks dead-last in the NBA in defensive real plus-minus out of 458 eligible players. On a knee that is not 100%, Washington needs to exploit this glaring whole in the Celtics D. Washington must also push the Celtics off the 3-point line. The Celtics make more threes per game than the Golden State Warriors do. If you let them, they can burn you from beyond the arc. The Celtics were 6 for 29 from beyond the arc against the Philadelphia 76ers — if Washington can make Boston replicate that poor field goal percentage from three, their chances to win will increase significantly.
Keys for Boston
Washington is below average road team, and if the Celtics can get the home crowd with some early threes, they will have a great advantage. The lone bright spot for Boston in the loss to Philadelphia was the play of Al Horford. He scored 27 points, and shot 11 for 16 from the field. Boston needs to keep feeding the beast, especially if Isaiah Thomas is not able to go tonight. The 2-guard match up between between Avery Bradley and Bradley Beal will be very important tonight for Boston. Beal has averaged 33 points the last two games against Boston, and that is directly correlated to Avery Bradley’s absences in those games. If Avery Bradley can make things difficult for Beal, the Celtics have a great chance of evening up the season series tonight.