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Celtics host the Wizards as the series shifts back to Boston for Game 5

The Celtics are hoping that a return to Boston will give them the boost that they need to get a win in game 5 and get the momentum back from the Wizards.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards (2-2) at Boston Celtics (2-2)
Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 5
Playoff Game Game #11, Home Game #6
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
8:00 PM ET
Radio: Sports Hub 98.5, WFED 1500 AM
TD Garden
Referees: Mike Callahan, Ed Malloy, Sean Wright

The series shifts back to the TD Garden and the Celtics are hoping that the change in venue will shift the momentum back their way. These two teams have played 8 games this season and in each of those, the home team has come out the winner. But, a change in the location is not all the Celtics need.

The Celtics have allowed the Wizards to go on 16-0, 22-0 and 26-0 runs. They were lucky to come back and win the first game after starting out in a 16 point hole. They weren't able to come back after the two big runs in DC. Along with coming home, the Celtics have some changes to make if they expect to win this series. Just thinking that a move back to the Garden will be enough is a big mistake.

The Celtics went back to Amir Johnson in the starting lineup for Game 4 and it seemed to work as they got off to a good start and the game was tied at half time. But in just 5 minutes and 41 seconds of the 3rd quarter, the Wizards went on a 26-0 run and never looked back. Brad Stevens is planning to start Amir in this game as well.

The Wizards seem to be fully healthy and they list no players on the injured list. Kelly Oubre will return from his one game suspension and will more than likely hear a lot of boos from the Celtics faithful at the Garden. He has said that he looks forward to hearing them. Markieff Morris' ankle appears to be healed as does Wall's ankle and wrist and Mahinmi's calf. Avery Bradley is playing with a hip pointer on each side due to a couple of bruising screens from Gortat. He said that he is feeling better and expects to play in this game.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Isaiah Thomas vs John Wall

Shooting Guard
Avery Bradley vs Bradley Beal

Small Forward
Jae Crowder vs Otto Porter

Power Forward
Amir Johnson vs Markieff Morris

Al Horford vs Marcin Gortat

Celtics Reserves

Jaylen Brown
Terry Rozier
Gerald Green
Kelly Olynyk
Demetrius Jackson
Jordan Mickey
James Young
Tyler Zeller
Marcus Smart
Gerald Green

Avery Bradley (hip pointers) probable

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Wizards Reserves
Bojan Bogdanovic
Brandon Jennings
Sheldon McClellan
Chris McCullough
Daniel Ochafu
Kelly Oubre Jr
Thomas Satoransky
Jason Smith
Trey Burke
Ian Mahinmi

None listed

Head Coach
Scott Brooks

Key Matchups
Isaiah Thomas vs John Wall
Wall is coming off a big game in Game 4 and the Celtics have to figure a way to slow him down. He is averaging 28.8 points, 11.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals. Also, the Celtics have to find a way to get Isaiah open as they double and triple teamed him and kept him from being effective in the 2 games in DC. This matchup is key on both sides. The Celtics need IT to score and to lead the team and they also need to slow Wall down, especially in transition.

Avery Bradley vs Bradley Beal
Beal struggled somewhat in the first two games and that made it somewhat easier for the Celtics to get a win. However, when the series shifted to DC, he found his shot and had big games for the Wizards. He is averaging 23.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.7 steals. Avery is playing with a hip pointer on each side and hopefully that won't hinder him from keeping Beal from having another big game.

Honorable Mention
Amir Johnson vs Markieff Morris
This has been the matchup that the Celtics have struggled with. Gerald Green started 2 games and Amir Johnson has started 2 games. At this time, it looks like Amir may be in the starting lineup in this game as well. The starters got off to a good start in game 4 and hopefully if he starts in this one, they can once again get off to another good start in this one. They can't afford to start off in a 20 point hole if they want to get a win.

Keys to the Game
Defense - The Celtics need to make defense a priority. They especially need to contain the Wizards' talented back court. The Celtics can't depend on trying to outscore the Wizards. They have to stop them from scoring with tough team defense. The Celtics have struggled to play consistent defense in this series and they have to find a way to dig down deep and play tough in your face defense from start to finish.

Be Aggressive
- The Celtics need to be the more aggressive team from the opening tip to the final buzzer. 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. The Wizards were the more aggressive team and they played harder in DC. The Celtics must turn that around and play harder and tougher if they want to get a win in this one.

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. In the third game, a loss, the Celtics were again out-rebounded 43-32. In their 4th meeting, a Celtics win, the Celtics out-rebounded the Wizards 54-39. It isn't a coincidence that the team that won each game had the rebounding edge. In Game 1, the Celtics and Wizards both finished with 38 rebounds. In game 2, the Wizards out-rebounded the Celtics 44-41. The Celtics won those two games. In Game 3 the Wizards out-rebounded the Celtics 50-38 and in Game 4 they out-rebounded the Celtics 45-31 and the Celtics lost. When the Celtics put out the extra effort it takes to box out and crash the boards, they win but when they allow the Wizards to out-work them on the boards, they lose. They MUST work harder to grab rebounds.

Focus - The Celtics at times can shoot the lights out and other times can't hit the broad side of a barn. Much of that has to be their focus on taking good shots and taking their time with their shots and not rushing them. They can't let the Wizards goading them or the lack of calls take their focus off of playing the game the right way. They have to also realize that if the 3's aren't falling they must go to the basket or they will shoot themselves out of the game once again. The Celtics seem to play very well for most of the games and then lose their focus for a short period each game and give the Wizards a big run. They have to stay focused and not give the Wizards any chance to go on a run.

Value Each Possession - The Wizards 26-0 run began with two shot clock violations by the Celtics. They scored 19 of those 26 points on Celtics turnovers. For the game, the Wizards scored 34 points off of Celtics turnovers. The Celtics gave up 25 second chance points. They have to stop turning the ball over and crash the boards and concentrate on their shot selection so that they don't give the Wizards a big run in this game.

Everyone Contributes - The Celtics are built to have everyone contribute. Avery and Jae were just 4-18 in Game 4 and just 1-8 from beyond the arc. The starters, especially, have to come up big and no lose their focus. Over 69 minutes, the Wizards starters have outscored the Celtics starters 45.2 points per 100 possessions. They can't afford to have any or all of their rotation players give away the ball and miss their shots. Every player has to contribute.


Home Game - The Celtics are at home and in this series, especially, home court has been important. Each game so far has been won by the home team. The Wizards have lost 9 of their last 10 games at the Garden. The Celtics need to get energy from the fans, who should be loud and make the Garden a very hostile arena for the Wizards.

Backs Against the Wall - Technically, this isn't a must win game, but the Celtics do have their backs against the wall with the Wizards having the momentum and Game 5 is crucial to gaining an edge in the series. If the Celtics lose, they HAVE to win in DC, and they haven't come close. They have to win this game to keep their hopes in the series alive. Typically, the Celtics play well in games where their backs are against the wall and hopefully that continues in this game.

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? It all effects the outcome of the game and most importantly, the Celtics need to adjust to the way the officials call the game. After Game 4, IT called out the refs for allowing the Wizards to grab and hold him on every possession. It will be interesting to see how that affects the officiating in this game.

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