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Washington Wizards (6-24) at Boston Celtics (28-5)
Friday, January 2
7:30 PM
Game #34, Home Game #19
TV: CSN-HD, CSN-HD, NBA LP 753
TD Banknorth Garden

Game Thread l Chat

Wizards Blogs: Bullets Forever l Truth About It

The Celtics return home after a tough 4 game road trip to face the Washington Wizards who are in last place in the Eastern Conference. This should be an easy game for the Celtics as they are home, have had a couple of days off, and are facing a team that is just 2-12 on the road, but, with the way the Celtics have played on the recent road trip, nothing is certain.

Last season, the Wizards won the series 2 games to 1. The Celtics won one in Boston while the Wizards won one at home and a second game in Boston, giving the Celtics back to back losses in January. . The Celtics won the first meeting between these two teams this season at the Verizon Center 122-88. The Wizards have been hit with injuries this season. Caron Butler, their leading scorer has been out the past 3 games with a sprained ankle and was listed as questionable for this game but has said that he is targeting this game for a return.

Hopefully, with a couple of days off, the Celtics have looked at film and solved the problems that plagued them on the West coast. and will start a new win streak with this game.

Probable Starting Matchups
PG: Rajon Rondo vs Mike James
SG: Ray Allen vs Nick Young
SF: Paul Pierce vs Caron Butler
PF: Kevin Garnett vs Antawn Jamison
C: Kendrick Perkins vs Andray Blatche

Injuries
Boston Celtics None

Washington Wizards Gilbert Arenas (knee) out
Brendan Haywood (wrist) out
Caron Butler (ankle) questionable, but has said the he will play and is
expected to start tonight after going through practice yesterday.

Key Matchups
vs
Rajon Rondo vs Mike James
In the 8 games that James has started since coming to the Wizards, he is averaging 15.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Rondo is much quicker and should be able to get past James at will. He will need to be aggressive for the Celtics to win this game.

vs
Kevin Garnett vs Antawn Jamison
Jamison is 2nd in the league in double doubles and is one of the top power forwards with 20.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. This should be a battle inside on both teams.

Honorable Mention
Kendrick Perkins vs Andray Blatche
In 10 starts for the Wizards, Blatch is averaging 11.8 points and 7 rebounds. Perk is the Celtics best interior defender and should be able to stop Blatche from establishing inside.

Team Connections
Caron Butler and Ray Allen are former UConn Huskies
Nick Young and Gabe Pruitt were teammates at USC
DeShawn Stevenson played for Doc in Orlando
Darius Songalia was drafted by the Celtics with the 50th pick in 2002
Antonio Daniels and Ray Allen were teammates in Seattle
Brian Scalabrine played for Eddie Jordan in NJ while Jordan was an assistant there.
Tom Thibodeau was set to join the Wizards last season as an assistant but left the club after his first practice with them.

Keys to the Game
Focus The Celtics, both starters and bench, have not been able to maintain their focus in the losses on the west coast. They need to get that focus back and not allow teams to take them away from their game.

Passing Game In the losses, the team wasn't passing the ball the way they do when they are playing their best. There were too many quick shots and too many jumpers. They need to get back to the basics of passing the ball and finding the open man.

Defense I imagine that Tom Thibodeau had a few choice words to say to team as they have gotten away from what has gotten them to this point. They need to put defense first and foremost and remember that they are a defensive team that can score rather than the other way around.

Rebound The Celtics were out rebounded 44-29 against the Blazers. Rebounding is all about effort and desire and the Celtics showed neither. The Celtics need to show that they want this game more than the Wizards by crashing the boards and putting out the effort to grab rebounds and limit the Wizards' second chance points.

X-Factor
Home at Last
The Celtics are back within the friendly confines of the TD Banknorth Garden. This should help them to get back on the winning track. They have also had some time to watch film from the 3 losses on their road trip and to try to fix what went wrong in those games. Hopefully this will be the start of another win streak.