The Celtics return home from a successful road trip to host the Washington Wizards. The Celtics are looking for their first home win after losing their home opener to the Raptors. When they last played at home, they were booed off the court and so are looking to redeem themselves with a good game and a win in this game.
This is the first of 4 games against the Wizards this season. They will play in Washington on Saturday, October 30 and on January 23. They will play the final game in Boston on April 3. The Celtics won the series 2-1 last season.The Celtics are 194-117 all time against the Wizards and they are 102-43 vs the Wizards in Boston. The Celtics won the final game last season 111-110 on a game winner by Jayson Tatum with 4.7 seconds remaining.
The Celtics are playing in their 5th game in 8 days and that includes an overtime game and a double overtime game. The Wizards are playing in their 4th game in 7 days and are playing on the first night of back to back games. They will return home to take on the Hawks on Thursday. The Wizards are 1-1 on the road and 1-0 at home. The Celtics are 2-1 on the road and 0-1 at home.
Even though the starting lineup with Dennis Schroder played very well in the two wins on the road this past week, I’m going to guess that Ime Udoka will go with Al Horford in the starting lineup with Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Rob Williams as he had said that would be his starters going forward. I’ve included the Wizards starters from their last game. Both teams are led by rookie coaches.
Al Horford missed Monday’s game with hip soreness and is listed as probable for this game. Romeo Langford missed both games on the road trip with a calf injury and is questionable for this game. Both are listed as a game time decision. After Monday’s game, Marcus Smart said that he had been feeling ill for a week and almost didn’t play in that game. He is not on the injury list for this game so he may be feeling better or may plan to play through it once again.
For the Wizards, Rui Hachimura missed training camp and all 3 games so far for a personal matter. He has not practiced with the team as yet and is out until his conditioning is up to game shape. Thomas Bryant will be out until December as he recovers from an ACL tear. Anthony Gill is out with a calf injury. Cassius Winston is out with a hamstring injury. Raul Neto is questionable with a shoulder bruise.
Probable Celtics Starters
Al Horford (hip) probable
Romeo Langford (calf) questionable
Probable Wizards Starters
Thomas Bryant (knee) out
Anthony Gill (calf) out
Rui Hachimura (conditioning) out
Raul Neto (shoulder) questionable
Cassius Winston (hamstring) out
Wes Unseld, Jr
Jaylen Brown vs Bradley Beal
Beal is the leading scorer for the Wizards and is capable of putting up big numbers as evidenced by the 46 points he scored the last time these two teams met. He is averaging 21.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.0 steals this season. He isn’t very efficient so far, shooting just 36.6% from the field and 21.1% from beyond the arc. However, if he is left open, he will definitely hit his shots. Jaylen missed Sunday’s game with patella tendonopathy but he looked good on Monday and hopefully will be good to go for this game.
Marcus Smart vs Spencer Dinwiddie
Dinwiddie is playing well for the Wizards with 19.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. Unlike Beal, Dinwiddie has been very efficient, shooting 42.6% from the field and 53.3% from beyond the arc. After Monday’s win, Marcus Smart said that he had not been feeling well for the past week. He looked more like himself in the second half of the game but afterwards, he didn’t look like he felt great. Hopefully he will be back to himself and be ready to be a defensive presence in this game.
Jayson Tatum vs Kyle Kuzma
Kuzma is averaging 14.3 points, 13.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He is shooting 41.5% from the field and 31.8% from beyond the arc. Jayson Tatum is coming off a 41 point game against the Hornets and the Celtics will need him to play well on both ends of the court in this game.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always the key to winning. The Celtics have said that they want to make tough defense their identity. They need to especially improve their perimeter defense as the Hornets got way too many open threes in their last game and the Celtics allowed them to shoot 43.2% from beyond the arc. The Celtics have to tighten that up. The Wizards are 23rd in 3 point percentage (31.7%) and hopefully the Celtics can limit their 3s in this game. The Celtics also need to defend the paint well since the Wizards are 12th with 47.5 points in the paint. The Celtics are 22nd with a defensive rating of 109.4 and they have to improve on that if they hope to be contenders. The Wizards are 8th with a defensive rating of 101.9.
Rebound - It’s important for teams to rebound to give themselves extra possessions and to limit their opponents’ possessions. The Celtics were out-rebounded by 18 in their blowout loss to the Raptors. They out-rebounded the Rockets by 3 and the Hornets by 1 and won both of those games. Much of rebounding is effort and hustle and when the Celtics give extra effort and hustle on the boards, it usually translates into the rest of their game.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics lost games last season that they should have won because they allowed teams to play harder and be more aggressive than them. The Celtics lost to Toronto this season because they weren’t as aggressive as the Raptors. The Celtics must be the more aggressive team on defense, in grabbing the rebounds, in going after loose balls, and in taking the ball to the basket. They can’t allow the Wizards to be the team that plays harder.
Team Play - The Celtics have to play as a team on both ends of the court. They have to move the ball and find the best shot. They have to play team defense and communicate . When the Celtics get more than 20 assists in a game they usually get the win. When they have fewer than 20 assists, they lose more often than not. Chemistry and teamwork is important to winning.
Pace - The Celtics are playing with a faster pace than they did last season. The Celtics are 11th with a pace of 101.91. The Wizards are 14th with a pace of 101.48. The Celtics need to quickly get up the court after a made basket or a rebound. They also have to move the ball quickly without turning it over. And they have to make good decisions with the ball quickly.
Home Game - The Celtics are back home again and they should have a sense of urgency to play well and get a win on their home court after being booed for their lack of effort in their last home game. The Celtics should get a boost from the home crowd as long as they come out and play hard. Celtics fans will cheer for their team through thick and thin as long as the Celtics give their best effort.
Fatigue - The Celtics are playing in their 5th game in 8 nights and the Wizards are playing in their 4th game in 7 nights and have another game on Thursday. Both teams have had to travel along with playing. The Celtics have had an overtime game and a double overtime game while the Wizards have had one overtime game. This game may come down to which team has more energy at the end.