Boston Celtics (26-17) at Wizards (24-20)
Regular Season Game #44, Road Game #23
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
7:00 PM ET
TV: CSN-NE, Comcast Sportsnet, NBA-LP 750(DTV)/751(Xfinity)
Radio: 100.7 WZLX, WFED 1500 AM
Referees: Marc Davis, Ron Garretson, Gedminas Petraitis
The Celtics are back on the road to face the Washington Wizards for the 3rd of 4 meetings this season. The Wizards won the first meeting 118-93 in the beginning of November in Washington. Kelly Olynyk, Al Horford and Jae Crowder all missed that game.
The Celtics won the second match 117-108 in Boston earlier in January. That was a very contentious match that ended in fines for both Jae Crowder and John Wall after a confrontation after the game and the police stationed between the two locker rooms to fend off any other fights. Afterwards the Wizards also accused the Celtics of playing dirty.
With that game fresh in both teams' minds, this should be an intense matchup. The Wizards have said that they will be wearing all black to the game to represent the Celtics' funeral. The Celtics have called that cute. They are playing on the Wizards home court where the Wizards are 18-6. The Celtics are 13-9 on the road. The Wizards have won 5 of their last 6 games and two straight. The Wizards have won 13 straight games at home. The Celtics have lost two straight games against slumping teams that they should have beaten.
The Wizards are playing in the second of back to back games and had to travel after their game in Charlotte to face the Celtics at home in this one. The Wizards beat the Hornets but every starter played over 30 minutes in order to get the win. The Wizards are just 2-7 in the second of back to back games. The Celtics are playing on the first night of back to back games with the Rockets coming to Boston on Wednesday.
The Celtics will once again be without Avery Bradley who didn't travel with the team due to the Achilles strain that has kept him out of 6 of the last 7 games. Also staying home are Gerald Green and Demetrius Jackson who both have the illness that has been going through the team. Tyler Zeller and Jonas Jerebko both traveled with the team and are expected to be available. Ian Mahinmi and Daniel House are both out for the Wizards.
Isaiah Thomas...Marcus Smart...Jae Crowder ...Al Horford...Amir Johnson
Avery Bradley (Achilles) out
Demetrius Jackson (illness) out
Gerald Green (illness) out
PG: John Wall
SG: Bradley Beal
SF: Otto Porter
PF: Markieff Morris
C: Marcin Gortat
Danuel House Jr
Ian Mahinmi (knee) out
Danuel House (wrist) out
Isaiah Thomas vs John Wall
Wall is averaging 23.0 points, 4.5 rebounds 10.2 assists, and 2.2 steals per game. The Celtics need Isaiah's offense, but he is going to struggle to keep Wall from having a big game. With Wall and Isaiah both vying for a spot on the All Star reserves, this matchup becomes even more important.
Marcus Smart vs Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal is averaging 21.7 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. Beal has been in a mini slump over the last 4 games, averaging just 13.8 points in those games and shooting 16.7% from beyond the arc. We can only hope that his slump continues. Regardless, the Celtics will need tough defense from Marcus.
Jae Crowder vs Otto Porter
Porter is averaging 14.5 points, 6.4 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
14 rebounds. He scored 20 points in the January 11 game against the Celtics. He also leads the NBA in 3 point percentage at 45.4%. 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. Having a lead against the Wizards doesn't mean a lot because the Wizards have already won 10 games in which they trailed by double digits. In other games the Celtics 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 this season. But, they have 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. Brad Stevens has implored his team to be more physical and hopefully they will respond. They made toughness their identity last season and they have to get back to that identity to get back to winning.
Rebound - In the first meeting between these two teams, a Celtics loss, the Celtics were out-rebounded 54-31 by the Wizards. In the 2nd meeting, a Celtics win, the Celtics out-rebounded the Wizards 45-44. 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 turned the ball over 21 times in their loss to the Trailblazers. That could be a lack of focus or frustration. They need to take care of the ball and focus on making good passes and not give the Wizards extra possessions and fast break points by turning the ball over. They also need to focus on playing the game the right way and taking good shots and blocking out the distractions of playing on the road.
Road Game and Fatigue - The Celtics are on the road where they have played well for the most part this season. The Wizards are playing on the second night of back to back games and had to travel after their match in Charlotte. Fatigue could become a factor for the Wizards who played big minutes last night.
Long Memories - These two teams dislike each other quite a bit, going back to some skirmishes last season. The tension between them has gotten even stronger this season. The Wizards have said that they are planning to wear black to the game to signify the Celtics' funeral. The Celtics for their part have called this "cute," which probably infuriated the Wizards even more. Both teams will have perceived slights by the other team on their minds and the team that can turn them into motivation for strong play will have the advantage.
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? With the hostilities from the last game, they will probably call it fairly tight which might foil the Celtics desire to be more physical. They also may feel they owe the Celtics one after missing a call that more than likely cost the Celtics the game against the Blazers. So, the officiating may indeed be an x-factor.