The Celtics are home for the second straight game as they host the Washington Wizards. Both teams have identical 3-2 records. The Celtics are 1-1 at home and 2-1 on the road. The Wizards are 2-1 at home and 1-1 on the road. Both teams have an overtime loss to the Cavs this season. Both teams are coming off a loss on Friday. It was the Celtics second straight loss.
This is the first of 3 games between these two teams this season. They will meet again in Boston on November 27 and will face off in Washington on March 28. The series between these teams was tied 2-2 last season with each team winning once at home and once on the road. The Celtics lead the series overall all time 196-119 and 103-44 all time in Boston.
The Celtics swept the series in the 2018-19 season but the Wizards have win 5 of the last 9 since then. Nine of the last 16 games between these two teams have been decided by 7 or fewer points. This includes a double overtime game last season. This is the first of back to back games for the Wizards while the Celtics don’t play again until Wednesday.
The Celtics will once again be without Robert Williams III, who is still rehabbing from a procedure before the season, and Danilo Gallinari, who will miss the entire season with a torn ACL. Malcolm Brogdon is questionable for this game with lower back stiffness. For the Wizards, Corey Kispert (ankle) and Delon Wright (hamstring) are both listed as out.
Probable Celtics Starters
2 Way Players
Danilo Gallinari (ACL) out
Robert Williams III (knee) out
Malcolm Brogdon (back) questionable
Head Coach (Interim)
Probable Wizards Starters
Vernon Carey, Jr
2 Way Players
Corey Kispert (ankle) out
Delon Wright (hamstring) out
Wes Unseld, Jr
Derrick White vs Bradley Beal
Beal is averaging 22.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.0 steals per game. He is shooting 59.5% from the field and 31.6% from beyond the arc. Beal has had some big games against the Celtics. Beal and Tatum are good friends and in the past have had a duel of sorts between them. Tatum scored 51 points when they met on January 23 last season. The Celtics need to try to slow Beal down if they hope to win this game.
Jaylen Brown vs Kyle Kuzma
Kuzma is averaging 20.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 blocks per game. He is shooting 45.6% from the field and 34.4% from beyond the arc. The Celtics need to keep Kuzma off the boards and they also have to limit his scoring.
Al Horford vs Kristaps Porzingis
Porzingis is averaging 17.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 blocks per game. He is shooting 47.8% from the field and 42.3% from beyond the arc. Porzingis gives them a big height advantage in the middle but he is also a very good 3 point shooter so the Celtics need to stay with him both in the paint and on the perimeter.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is always the key to winning and, after leading the league on the defensive end last season, the Celtics have struggled on that end this season. The Celtics are 26th with a defensive rating of 117.9. They have allowed 120 or more points in their last 3 games. The Wizards are 8th with a defensive rating of 109.1. The Celtics allowed the Cavs to shoot 51.7% from the field and 45.7% from beyond the arc. The Celtics must get back to making defense their priority.
Rebound - It’s important for teams to rebound to give themselves extra possessions and to limit their opponents’ possessions. Rebounding has been a problem for the Celtics this season so far. They are 29th, grabbing just 39.0 rebounds per game. 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.
Move the Ball Carefully - The Celtics need to keep the ball moving and find the open man. They have to avoid lapsing into iso ball. Jayson Tatum is going to need to resist the urge to have a duel with Bradley Beal as he has tried to do in the past. They also have to be more careful with the ball. They had 19 turnovers against the Cavs and they have to tighten up their handles and also make more careful passes.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics have lost games that they should have won because they allowed teams to play harder and be more aggressive than them. They seemed to lose their edge against both the Bulls and the Cavs and they need to get that edge and swagger back. The Celtics must be the more aggressive team on defense, in grabbing 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.
Home Game - The Celtics are once again at home. They should have a sense of urgency to play well and get a win on their home court to get back on track. The Celtics should get a boost from the home crowd . Also the Wizards will have to deal with travel, staying in a hotel, and a hostile crowd and hopefully that will give the Celtics an advantage.
Officiating - Officiating is always an x-factor in every game. Every crew officiates differently. Some call it tight, others let them play. Some favor the home team. Some favor the road team. Some just make bad, head scratching calls as they did several times in the last game. The Celtics need to adjust to the way the refs call the game and not let bad calls and no calls take them out of the game or affect their focus. They have to stay focused on the game and not on complaining about the officiating.