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Delonte West Returns as Celtics Host Wizards

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Boston Celtics (8-2) vs. Washington Wizards (3-6)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

7:30pm

TV: Comcast SportsNet [] Radio: WEEI

Location: TD Garden

Chat Room

UPDATE: John Wall and Yi Jianlian will not play for the Washington Wizards tonight.

Marquis Daniels will play for the Celtics tonight.

Playing for the first time since their 116-110 overtime victory over the Memphis Grizzlies last Saturday, the Boston Celtics welcome the 3-6 Washington Wizards to the TD Garden for an Eastern Conference showdown at 7:30pm.

The Celtics, fresh off an impressive road trip that saw them post a 3-1 record against four very capable teams, are playing for the first time at home since November 5. They will welcome back reserve guard Delonte West, who should see his first action of the season, having completed his NBA-mandated 10-game suspension for pleading guilty to weapons charges.

How West will fit in right away is still up in the air. Here's Doc Rivers' take via Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston:

"We're playing pretty well now. We have a pretty good rhythm and [West is] going to change our rhythm a little bit. So we're going to have to get used to that. Having said that, I'd rather have that than not. We'll see. I think Delonte will help Nate [Robinson] the most, but we'll wait and see. He'll help us."

West is expected to spend the majority of his time backing up Rajon Rondo at point guard, which will allow Robinson to swing over to the off-guard spot and serve as more of a scorer. However, West should also see time at the two-guard position, and even at small forward, if the Celtics decide to go small.

The Wizards enter tonight's game ranked 20th in the league in defensive efficiency (allowing 105 points/100 possessions), and dead last in offensive efficiency (96.2 points/100 possessions). With that in mind, they could be in trouble against Boston, who's currently ranked sixth in the league in defensive efficiency (99.1 points/100 possessions).

The big question for Washington tonight is whether or not rookie sensation John Wall will play. The first-year point guard sprained his left foot in Washington's loss to the Chicago Bulls last Saturday, and sat out of the Wizards' 109-94 victory over the Toronto Raptors last night. Wall's put up impressive numbers thus far, as he boasts averages of 18.1 points, 9.8 assists (5th in the NBA), and 3.25 steals (1st in the NBA). There has been no official word yet on whether or not Wall will play tonight. The Wizards are currently 2-6 against Eastern Conference opponents this season, and are 0-4 on the road.

Projected Starters

Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Shaquille O'Neal

Wizards: Kirk Hinrich, Gilbert Arenas, Al Thornton, Andray Blatche, and JaVale McGee

Injuries

For the Celtics, centers Jermaine O'Neal (knee) and Kendrick Perkins (knee) and guard Avery Bradley (ankle) are out. Marquis Daniels (family matter) is listed as questionable.

For the Wizards, forward Josh Howard (knee) is out, while forward Yi Jianlian (knee) and guard John Wall (foot) are listed as questionable.

Key Matchup

If Wall plays, this one goes to him and Rondo. If Wall's out, keep an eye on Kevin Garnett vs. Andray Blatche. The last time these two teams met last April, Blatche lit the Celtics up with 31 points and 11 rebounds. Blatche loves his stats. Trust me.

Things to Keep an Eye On

  • The Celtics have made 24 of their last 46 three-point field goal attempts (52.2 percent). Can they continue their hot shooting from the nation?
  • How will Delonte West play in his season debut? Will the chemistry that was present between him, Nate Robinson, and Glen Davis during the preseason still be there?
  • If West does indeed serve as the ball handler for the second unit, how will Robinson play?
  • If Marquis Daniels can't play, who gets more minutes at the small forward spot behind Paul Pierce? Von Wafer? West?
  • Will Shaquille O'Neal have any trouble in the post against the lanky McGee? If their respective weight listings are to be believed, Shaq has nearly 100 pounds on McGee, but McGee's athletic enough to bother Shaq if he's forced to throw up jump hooks if he posts up too far from the rim. McGee's currently averaging 3.0 blocks per game, good for second in the NBA.