Time: Sunday, March 7th, 8:00 PM EST
Venue: TD Garden
TV: ESPN Radio: WEEI
The Line: Celtics are 17-11 at home, and have won 5 straight games against WAS
The Celtics are playing a team they have never played before. The last time the C's faced off against the Wiz, they faced a team reeling from a scandal that was underachieving anyway under the now traded Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. Effectively they were facing a de-fanged snake, a team that had high pre-season expectations as a possible dark horse but by Feb 1st had been reduced to a 16-31 record with really no hopes of redeeming the season, and little hope with the current roster going forward to the future.
The team the Celtics face tonight though is far from that squad though. Three of the starters in that February game have been traded away (Butler, Jamison, Brendan Haywood) and now the Celtics face a sort of enigma. No question, this roster will look very different come opening day next season, but right this is just a team full of guys that are finally getting to show what they're capable of. Andray Blatche pre-Jamison trade? Less than 10pts per contest. Since? 24+ points and 10+ boards. Other players have stepped it up too; Javall McGee has average double digit points and near double digit rebounds as well.The Celtics might be 5-0 against the Wizards, but they're 0-0 against THESE Wizards.
I guess the point I'm making here is that this game is just as dangerous as any other. If the Celtics take it seriously from tip-off til the final tick of the 4th, than they should be okay. But if they don't, there is no telling how this game will go.
Probable Starting Lineups: Boston Celtics
Injuries and Stuff: Tony Allen (DTD), Marcus Landry (D-League)
Injuries: Josh Howard (OUT)
Matchup of the Night: Andray Blatche V Kevin Garnett
Blatche is just the type of mobile high energy multi-talented big that gives us problems. Sure, if all he wanted to do was post up and play defense, we'd be kosher. But Blatche wants to run the floor. He wants to go 110% on the boards...heck he even wants to hit a three-pointer once and a while. Garnett is going to be running tonight, and if Garnett can't guard Blatche I'm not sure anyone on our team has the combination of length and speed to do it. I'm not saying Blatche is a world beater or anything, but he's a potential mismatch for almost anyone in the league because of his unique body and skill set. The C's need to make sure he never gets a sliver of confidence this game.
Three Keys To The Game For The Good Guys:
1) You can't look at just one guy. You gotta look at all the guys.- The Wizards are a different team than most others, in that most other teams generally have a good idea about who is going to be churning out the production on 85% of the nights. While Blatche has been good for the Wiz so far, this team is still without a leader. What I am implying here is that this Wizards team does not have a pecking order. Randy Foye could get 4 pts or he could get 20. Same for Al Thornton. The Celtics can't gameplan around stopping one guy, because nobody has any idea from Washington who is going to score the points.
2) Don't Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth, And If You Do, Well Don't Do It Twice!!- I can only imagine that when the Celtics eggheads looked at the roster in October they saw 8 straight wins in between the bookend Cleveland games of 2/25 and 3/14. Well, we sure screwed the pooch with the Nets game, but since then we've rattled off 3 straight wins. While the Grizzlies and Bucks are no pushovers, they're far from unbeatable. This portion of the schedule is a gift from the NBA schedule makers, and lord knows the Celtics deserve it. I just hope our boys have the sense to reach out and take it.
3) Say Hello To The New Guy- An ideal game for Micheal Finley's first contest in Celtics green. While I don't imagine that M-Finn (I'm trying it out) is going to have any major impact of the outcome of the game, this should be a good no pressure home contest for the old man to get his sea-legs back, as it were.