The Celtics would seem to be walking into the Verizon Center with the numbers on their side. They took all three games against the Wizards last season by an average of 22 points per contest. The Wizards, after being the supposed Dark Horse in the Eastern conference during the preseason are now solidly at the bottom of the Southeast conference. They're embroiled in a team chemistry controversy that nobody is really talking about.
Celtics on the other hand, they're doing okay. Their last 8 games have gone alright I think, in my humble opinion. Apparently they're tied for the best record in the Eastern Conference and they trail some obscure team in the West by a half a game for the best record in the league. Heck, even John Hollinger thinks they're not such a bad team. Seems like a good night to sit back and watch the carnage ensue, right?
Wrong! These Wizards are a lot of things this season. They're dysfunctional. They're underachieving. They're in recovery from stage four caffiene addiction. But beyond all these things, these Wizards are in their hearts unpredictable. This is a team that has lost to Toronto and Detroit (a combined 19-25), but they are also a team that beat Dallas and Cleveland (a combined 30-14). This is a team that can surprise you, and right now they're fighting for their playoff lives. With the season just barely a quarter over, the Wizards already cannot afford to have another losing streak like the one they suffered in early November. That one lasted six games. Currently, they're on a 2 game skid, and I believe fan law dictates you cannot call it a losing streak until three games have been dropped. These Wizards cannot take another losing streak so early in the season, so expect a sense or urgency. This game, like every other game the Celtics play during the regular season, will be "just another game" to the C's, but it will be a statement game for the (Cheese) Whiz.
Probable Starting Lineups:
Injuries and Stuff
Boston: Tony Allen (DTD), Glen Davis (OUT), Marquis Daniels (OUT), Bill Walker (D-League)
Washington: Mike James (OUT), Mike Miller (OUT)
Major Matchup:Rajon Rondo V Gilbert Arenas
So far this season Rajon Rondo is allowing this opponents to score an average of 16.4 points per 48 minutes of play. That's not a terrible mark but it's not like it's a shut down mark either. However, against Gilbert Arenas, Rondo allows an average of 31.1 points per 48 mins, which is pretty awful. Gilbert is averaging about 22 points per matchup when these two go head to head. There is hope though.
Rondo and Gilber have not squared off since around the All-Star break during the 2007/2008 season. Gilbert has no idea how much Rondo has grown, or how much his game has developed. On top of that, Gilbert is still trying to find his place in the Washington lineup. He's scoring, sure, but is he helping them win? I think we know the answer to that, and I think he does too.
Other Noteable Matchups:
Kevin Garnett V Antawn Jamison: Jamison has been quietly having a pretty good (but honestly expected..this guy is consistent now) year. He's shown he's still willing to work for those boards grabbing nearly 10 a game. He's still got his outside touch, and he'll make Garnett work a little harder on defense than he has had to in recent games. He'll also be a real rebounding challenge.
Caron Butler V Paul Pierce: Say what you want about the man, Caron Butler can play with the best of them. He's a tenacious defender, and he can do a little bit of everything. Honestly I think the number one thing holding him back this season isn't anything he can control; it's Gilbert Arenas.Last game Paul Pierce turned the ball over 5 times, and Caron Butler will surely be drinking his Diet Mountain Dew before this game.
Keys to the game for the Good Guys:
Rebound that bas-ket-ball!: Over the past 4 games, we have been outrebounded by a total of nearly 40 boards. That is simply unacceptable. Leon Powe wouldn't have let this happen. We need to see some real hustle and grit from our post players, and we need Kevin Garnett (that's right, I'm calling out Kevin Garnett) and Kendrick Perkins to STOP TIPPING THE BALL AND REBOUND IT!
Don't fall asleep at halftime: I know the last...I don know...let's say eight..games have been pretty cool. But one trend is that we've been outscored in 5 out of those 8 games in the third quarter. It's very rare we're getting outscored in the 4th, but we almost always allow the bad guys to chip away at the lead in the 3rd. Keep the focus boys.
Limit those turnovers!: Yeah yeah, I know. Everyone complains about the Celtics turnovers. Well they're a problem, and these Wizards are going to run. If the C's do manage to turn the ball over, it'll be against a lineup that will almost certainly be smaller (lookin at you Earl Boykins) but will almost certainly be faster too. They've got Butler, Jamison, Blatche, Boykins, Foye who all play better in transition. We've gotta keep the pace slow and beat them up in the halfcourt!
Bill Walker Watch: 1 game, 0 pts, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 earth shattering life changing dunks
Probability of significant playing time: 0%
-Bill had a good doubleheader last week though, and he's gonna rock Erie this weekend!