The Celtics host the Washington Wizards for the third game of a 6 game home stand. The Wizards are playing in the third game of a 3 game road trip. They played both of the previous two road games at Miami and lost both games to the Heat. The Celtics won both games of their home stand so far over the Dallas Mavericks first and then, on Friday, the Sacramento Kings. This is the second of 3 games between these two teams. The Celtics won the first game 112-94 on 10/30. They will meet again on March 28 in Washington.
The Celtics are first in the East, 1.5 games ahead of the second place Milwaukee Bucks. They are 8-1 at home, with their only loss at home in overtime against the Cleveland Cavaliers. They are 9-1 in their last 10 games. They have won their last 2 games. The Wizards are 7th in the East, 5 games behind the Celtics. They are 3-5 on the road and 6-4 in their last 10 games. They have lost their last 2 games.
The Celtics are playing in the first of back to back games. They will complete the back to back on Monday against the Charlotte Hornets. They are 3-0 so far in the first of back to back games. The Celtics swept the Wizards in the 2018-19 season and Washington has won 5 of the last 10 since then. The Celtics are 197-119 all time overall against the Wizards. They are 103-44 in games played in Boston.
The Celtics will be without Jayson Tatum for this game as he will be out with a sore ankle. He was questionable against the Mavericks but has played 2 games since then. He is listed as out for this game. I’m guessing that Derrick White and Grant Williams will get the start but that’s just a guess. Robert Williams III is getting closer to a return but remains out for this game. Danilo Gallinari also remains out.
For the Wizards, Monte Morris is questionable. He has missed the last 3 games due to ankle soreness. Johnny Davis is questionable with a groin injury. He also missed Friday’s game. Rui Hachimura has missed the last 2 games and is questionable with an ankle injury. Morris, Davis, and Hachimura are all a game time decision. Delon Wright is out with a hamstring injury.
Probable Celtics Starters
2 Way Players
Danilo Gallinari (ACL) out
Robert Williams III (knee) outJayson Tatum (ankle) out
Head Coach (Interim)
Probable Wizards Starters
Vernon Carey, Jr
2 Way Players
Monte Morris (ankle) questionable
Johnny Davis (groin) questonable
Rui Hachimura (ankle) questionable
Delon Wright (hamstring) out
Wes Unseld, Jr
Marcus Smart vs Bradley Beal
Beal is averaging 23.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He is shooting 51.5% from the field and 40.3% 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 but without Tatum in this game, Beal may be a bit looser. The Celtics need to try to slow Beal down if they hope to win this game.
Grant Williams vs Kyle Kuzma
Kuzma is averaging 20.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. He is shooting 45.9% from the field and 30.0% 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 20.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game. He is shooting 45.2% from the field and 35.8% 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, although they have shown flashes of playing good defense. The Celtics are 16th with a defensive rating of 111.4. The Wizards are 10th with a defensive rating of 110.0. The Celtics must get back to making defense their priority for 48 minutes every game.
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 24th, grabbing just 42.0 rebounds per game. The Wizards are 7th, with 45.2 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.
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 have allowed other teams to come back from a deficit when they took their foot off the gas. 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 for all 48 minutes. They can’t allow the Wizards to be the team that plays harder.
Next Man Up - This will be Jayson Tatum’s first missed game this season. He has been a big part of their success and so with him out, they will need others to step up and help to fill in for his 30.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists. They have to continue to play team ball, however, and not be tempted for one player to try to do too much but each player needs to step up and do just a little more.
Home Game - The Celtics are once again at home. They should get a boost from the home crowd and from being in familiar surroundings. The Celtics need to have a sense of urgency at home to protect home court. 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.