Washington came into Boston on Wednesday and handed the Celtics a home loss. Following that game, multiple Boston players and head coach Ime Udoka talked about the team’s effort level. Or, more appropriately, lack thereof.
Let’s start there with what we’re watching for in the rematch:
1. Effort: The Celtics are going to be without Marcus Smart. They may also be without Robert Williams, who landed on the injury report with an illness. No matter who plays, we’re expecting to see Boston fly around the court making plays. It might get messy, but that’s ok.
As Jaylen Brown said: Let’s just get back to Celtics basketball again.
2. Interior defense: Montrezl Harrell had his way with Boston on Wednesday. He got whatever looks he wanted around the rim. If Robert Williams can’t go, that’s a potential problem spot for Boston.
Al Horford will do what he can, same with Grant Williams. But who else will emerge if Timelord can’t go? Is this a spot for Enes Kanter? If so, Ime Udoka will have to tweak his defense. Playing the “switch everything” style won’t work with Kanter in the game. On the flip side, Kanter should be able to help with cleaning up some of the rebounding issues Boston has had.
3. Scoring: Can Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum both get it going? Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a good defender, but he can only guard one of the Celtics stars. That should leave the other one with an advantageous matchup. Tatum was fine against the Wizards on Wednesday. Brown needs to get it going.
In addition to the stars, Horford should be able to do damage inside. Daniel Gafford is expected to be out for Washington. Harrell is a good offensive player. Defensively? Harrell is a good offensive player. Horford needs to take advantage of scoring chances inside.