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Celtics look to bounce back as they host the Washington Wizards

The Celtics return home from a disappointing loss to the Raptors looking to bounce back with a win against the visiting Washington Wizards.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards (19-18) at Boston Celtics (23-15)
Regular Season Game #39, Home Game #18
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
8:00 PM ET
TV: CSN-NE, Comcast Sportsnet, NBA-LP 753(DTV)/753(Xfinity)
Radio: Sports Hub 98.5, WFED 1500 AM
TD Garden
Referees: Mike Callahan, Tony Brothers, Leon Wood

The Celtics are back at home to host the Washington Wizards for the 2nd of 4 meetings this season. The Wizards won the first meeting 118-93 in the beginning of November at Washington. Kelly Olynyk, Al Horford and Jae Crowder all missed that game. They will meet two more times - on January 24 in Washington and on March 20 in Boston.

Both teams are playing on the second night of back to back games. The Celtics suffered a tough loss to the Raptors in Toronto and had to travel home after the game. After a 2 point win over the Bulls at home, the Wizards had to travel to Boston after the game. The Celtics are 5-3 on the second night of back to back games while the Wizards are 1-6 on the second night of back to back games.

The Celtics have hopes that Avery Bradley will be able to play in this game after missing the previous two games with an Achilles sprain. However, if he is having any stiffness or pain I expect them to err on the side of caution and hold him out yet another game. Ian Mahinmi (knee) and Danuel House (wrist) are both out for the Raptors.

Probable Starters

Isaiah Thomas...Marcus Smart...Jae Crowder ...Al Horford...Amir Johnson

Celtics Reserves

Jaylen Brown
Gerald Green
Terry Rozier
Jonas Jerebko
Kelly Olynyk
Demetrius Jackson
Jordan Mickey

Avery Bradley (Achilles) possible
James Young (ankle) out
Tyler Zeller (illness) out

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Probable Starters

PG: John Wall
SG: Bradley Beal
SF: Otto Porter
PF: Markieff Morris
C: Marcin Gortat

Wizards Reserves
Trey Burke
Danuel House Jr
Sheldon McClellan
Andrew Nicholson
Daniel Ochafu
Thomas Satoransky
Jason Smith
Marcus Thornton

Ian Mahinmi (knee) out
Danuel House (wrist) out

Head Coach
Scott Brooks

Key Matchups
Isaiah Thomas vs John Wall
Wall is averaging 23.1 points, 4.4 rebounds 10.1 assists, and 2.3 steals per game. The Celtics need Isaiah's offense, but he is going to struggle to keep Wall from having a big game. Isaiah will have added motivation to do well against Wall in that Wall is the reigning player of the month and Isaiah felt snubbed and thought he deserved that honor.

Marcus Smart vs Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal is averaging 22.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game. This is the second straight game where the Celtics have to deal with a high scoring back court who are tough to guard. It would be nice to have Avery back for this game but there's no guarantees as I write this that he will be back.

Honorable Mention
Jae Crowder vs Otto Porter
Porter is averaging 14.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. However, in the first meeting between these two teams, which Jae missed, Porter scored a career high 34 points and also had
14 rebounds. It will be up to Jae to be sure he doesn't have another career game vs the Celtics.

Keys to the Game
Play Strong for 48 Minutes - In some games the Celtics start strong but then struggle to make shots and turn the ball over allowing the other team to get a lead. In other games they struggle out of the gate and then spend the rest of the game trying to catch up. They need to play well for the entire game and give a consistent effort throughout.

Defense - The Celtics need to make defense a priority. Defense wins games. They especially need to contain the Wizards' talented back court. They have struggled with their defense at times this season and some may have to do with the injuries. But, they have also shown flashes of the tough gritty defense they played last season. They need to get back to that and play tough team defense on a consistent basis.

Be Aggressive - The Celtics need to be the more aggressive team from start to finish. They need to be aggressive in going to the hoop, in crashing the boards, in fighting for loose balls and in running the court. They also have to be more aggressive on defense. They have to be the team that wants it more. They made toughness their identity last season and they have to get back to that identity for every game.

Rebound - In the first meeting between these two teams, The Celtics were out-rebounded 54-31 by the Wizards. They can't allow that to happen again. The Celtics have to put out the extra effort to grab rebounds if they want to get a win in this game.

Focus - The Celtics need to keep their focus on the game and on playing the right way. They shot just 59% from the free throw line in the last meeting between these two teams and that is a lack of focus. The Celtics seemed to lose their focus in the last 6 minutes of the game vs the Raptors on Tuesday night. They turned the ball over and they couldn't hit their shots and most importantly, they couldn't get any stops. They need to keep their focus on doing the things that it takes to get a win.


Home Game and Fatigue - The Celtics are at home and have been playing well at the Garden recently. They should get a boost from the fans and hopefully being at home will help to alleviate any fatigue they feel from playing back to back. Since the Wizards also played on Tuesday night and had to travel, the team that can handle the fatigue the best will get the win.

Officiating - Officiating is always an x-factor. How the refs call the game has a big influence on how the teams play. Will they let them play or call every little bit of contact? Will they call it evenly or will they favor one team or the other. Will they be influenced by the home crowd or will they call it fairly for both teams? It all effects the outcome of the game.

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