Washington Wizards (0-4) at Boston Celtics (2-3)
Game: #6, Home Game: #2
Time: Monday, January 2. 7:30 PM EST
Venue: TD Garden, Boston MA
TV: CSN-NE, Comcast Sportsnet, NBA-LP 753/754 Radio: WEEI, WJFK
Officials: Greg Willard, Eli Roe, Zach Zarba
The Line: The Celtics clobbered the Bullets last night, but
last season only manged to split the 4 game series. This will
be the second of many back-to-back games for the Celtics, and
they lost the first one last week, against the (now) lowly
Last night, Rondo. Went. Ham. He went turkey. Rondo went corned-beef with russian dressing and sauerkraut. He went M-L-T (mutton-lettuce and tomato sandwich, when the mutton is nice and lean, and the tomato is ripe..they're so perky, I love that) in DC!
If you aren't following my hip language, I'm saying Rajon Rondo played exceptionally well last night. He managed to record his first triple-double (something he's already come within 2 rebounds of this season before), and the Celtics managed their second rout in a row. And it wasn't just Rondo who played exceptionally well. Four of the Celtics' starting five shot .500 from the field or better, and only Rondo and Allen were needed for more than 28 minutes.
So, the fact that the Celtics are playing the same foe, at home this time, that they so easily dispatched last night would seem to virtually guarantee another victory, right?
Wrong. This is 2012 now. Apparently the world is going to end (for serial this time, guys) in December, Batman is going to die, and on top of that, its the season of the condensed schedule. Tonight will mark the Celtics' third game in four nights. The Celtics are a lot of things. They're crafty, tenacious, classy (as long as you don't let Kevin Garnett near point guards or Bill Walker), old-school tough and allegedly just a nuisance on the curling circuit.
One thing the Celtics are not, however, is young. Four of the starting five are older than the movie Caddyshack (and Jermaine O'Neal hasn't aged half as well), and because of that these stacked games together present a more nuanced problem than they do to say a team like the Wizards, most whom are young enough to have liked Pokemon, and not sarcastically.
Last night Doc limited Pierce and Garnett to 28 minutes a piece, and limited Jermaine O'Neal to just 23. One might suggest that he did that because the Celtics led, and led big for a large chunk of the game, but don't be surprised if the elder statesmen on the roster get even less time tonight, regardless of where the score of the game is leaning.
The last time the Celtics had 3 games in 4 nights, they followed up hard-fought losses against the Knicks and Heat with an absolute stinker against the Hornets. Tonight the Celtics are following two easy wins against (at the time) win-less teams with a third, and incredibly familiar still win-less Bullets squad. The Wiz are going to have the legs, but the Celtics should be able to pull this one out as long as they get on top early and assert will on the young impressionable Wizards.
But, if its a footrace early, watch out. Doc's not going to stress the old guard just to teach the Wiz a few tricks.
Starting lineups courtesy of FLCeltsFan, as always!
Boston Celtics Probable Starters
PG SG SF PF C
Rajon Rondo...Ray Allen...Paul Pierce...Kevin Garnett... Jermaine O'Neal
Boston Bench Mob
Chris Wilcox (shoulder) day to day
Mickael Pietrus (knee) out
Jermaine O'Neal (hamstring) probable
Washington Wizards Probable Starters
PG SG SF PF C
John Wall...Nick Young....Rashard Lewis...Andary Blatche...JaVale McGee
Jan Vesely (hip) day to day
Maurice Evans (knee) day to day
Wizards Assistant Coach Sam Cassell played for the Celtics during the 2007‐08 season and was a member of the
2008 NBA Championship team
Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen were teammates in Seattle from 2003‐07
Kevin Garnett played for Wizards head Coach Flip Saunders in Minnesota from 1995‐2005 He also played for Wizards Assistant Coach Randy Wittman in Minnesota in 2007
Garnett and Cassell were teammates in Minnesota from 2003‐05
John Wall and Rajon Rondo both attended the University of Kentucky
Avery Bradley and Maurice Evans both attended the University of Texas.
Match-Up To Watch: Rajon Rondo V John Wall
Even though Rondo ended up with a triple-double last night, and coincidentally the W, you should not over-look John Wall here. Rondo played him tough, and clearly took the matchup personally. Wall still managed to shoot a hair under 50% from the field, while pouring on 19 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds of his own. Wall is only a second year player, while Rondo should be just entering his prime as a star, but don't be shocked if both guys put on a pretty entertaining show tonight, trying to one-up each other from tip-off to ending buzzer. Wall can't be happy with the way things went last night, and he knows the Celtics can be beat, because he helped do it twice last year.
3 Keys For The Good Guys:
1) Don't Drag This Out: The Celtics will not win if the score is close for most of the game. This is not a game they'll take personally as a unit, and its not a game that is 'do or die' by any means. If the Celtics aren't up big after two quarters (as they were yesterday), when the Wizards use their fresh legs to make that 4th quarter run, it'll get a lot closer than 7 points this time.
2) Mind Your Dray's and JaVale's: Dear Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal, and anyone else who likes playing less than 30 minutes a game because your team is blowing out the other guys: Get after McGee and Blatche early. Andray Blatche is like if you took Derrick Coleman's talent and mixed it up with Britney Spears's crazy. He needs to be frustrated and antagonized early and often, and if that happens, he'll take himself out of the game. McGee is a bit less clinically insane, but he's a hothead, he's immature, and he likes to try to bully people in the paint. If the Celtics can get him into foul trouble early, it should be a walk in the park from there.
3) PLAYOFFS? Don't talk to me about playoffs!: The East is weak. I mean just absolutely terrible. The Celtics should, by all rights, have absolutely no problem getting to the dance. And, since being the last one standing in June is really the only thing that matters to these Greybeards, there is nothing to be gained from exposing them to risk or injury when you don't have to. That means looking to end games fast and clean, with large leads early and solid bench play.