A day after an active trade deadline, the Celtics host the Washington Wizards. This is the 7th and final game in a 7-game home stand. This is the second of 4 matches between these 2 teams. The Celtics won Game 1 126-107 in Washington on October 30. They will meet again in Washington on March 17 and in Boston on April 14. The Celtics are 59-43 overall all-time against the Wizards and 36-16 in games played in Boston. Boston won the series 2-1 last season.
The Celtics are first in the East, 4.5 games ahead of 2nd place Cleveland, 6.5 games ahead of 3rd place Milwaukee and 4th place New York, 8.5 games ahead of 5th place Philadelphia and 11 games ahead of 6th place of Indiana. Celtics are 24-3 at home and 7-3 in their last 10 games. They are 26-6 against other Eastern Conference teams. They have won their last 2 games.
The Wizards are 14th in the East, 2 games ahead of last-place Detroit. They are 1 game back of 13th place Charlotte, 8.5 games back of 12th place Toronto, 12.5 games back of 10th place Atlanta and a play-in spot. They are 6-19 on the road, which is actually better than their 3-22 record at home, and they are 2-8 in their last 10 games. They are 6-29 against Eastern Conference teams and have lost their last 4 games.
The Celtics are 4-2 so far in their homestand, beating Indiana, New Orleans, Atlanta and Memphis and losing to the Lakers and Clippers. After this final homestand, the Celtics will visit the Heat for a matinee game on Sunday and then take on the Nets for another home-and-home series, first in Boston and then in Brooklyn. They will then visit Chicago and New York before 3 more home games against Philadelphia, Dallas and Golden State.
The Wizards just finished a 4-game homestand where they went 0-4, losing to the Clippers, Miami, Phoenix and Cleveland. They will return home after this road game to Boston to host Philadelphia before embarking on a 4 game road trip that will take them through Dallas, New Orleans, Denver and Oklahoma City.
Jrue Holiday is no longer on the injured list and should play in this game. However, Jayson Tatum has been added to the roster due to an illness. His status will be a game-time decision, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sit this one out. He was present in the toss around, so he may be on track to play in this game. If he doesn’t play, I expect Al Horford to start in his place. New Celtics acquisition 2 Xavier Tillman is out with a knee injury. Jaden Springer is questionable because he was just traded.
For the Wizards, Marvin Bagley III is out with a back contusion. With Daniel Gafford traded and Richaun Holmes also out due to a trade to the Wizards on Thursday, I think their two-way player, Eugene Omoruyi, will start and Kyle Kuzma could see some minutes at center. Isaiah Livers is out with a groin injury. He was traded to the Wizards on January 14, but has yet to make his debut. Patrick Baldwin is also out with a sprained right ankle.
Potential Celtics starters
Jrue HolidayPhoto by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images
Derrick WhitePhoto by Paul Rutherford/Getty Images
Jaylen BrownPhoto by Megan Briggs/Getty Images
Jayson TatumPhoto by Paul Rutherford/Getty Images
Kristaps PorzingisPhoto by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images
Two mode players
Xavier Tillman (trade) controversial
Jaden Springer (trade) questionable
Jayson Tatum (illness) questionable
The head coach
Potential novice wizards
Tyus JonesPhoto by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images
Jordan PoolePhoto by Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Deni AvdijaPhoto by Kenny Giarla/NBAE via Getty Images
Kyle KuzmaPhoto by Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Eugene OmoruyiPhoto by Pepper Robinson/NBAE via Getty Images
Marvin Bagley III (back) out
Richaun Holmes (trade) out
Isaiah Livers (hip) 0ut
Patrick Baldwin, Jr. (ankle) out
The head coach
Brian Keefe (interim)
Jayson TatumPhoto by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images
Kyle KuzmaPhoto by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
Jayson Tatum vs Kyle Kuzma
Kuzma is averaging 21.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists. He shoots 45.5% from the field and 33.1% from beyond the arc. Against Boston in the first game, he finished with 21 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. He shot 60% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. Jayson Tatum is questionable so Al Horford could start opposite Kuzma.
Derrick WhitePhoto by Brian Fluharty/Getty Images
Jordan PoolePhoto by Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Derrick White vs. Jordan Poole
Poole is averaging 15.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1 steal per game. He shoots 40.4% from the field and 29.7% from beyond the arc. In the first game against the Celtics he finished with 11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 3 steals. He shot 45.5% from the field and 20% from beyond the arc.
Jaylen Brown vs Danny Avdija
Avdija is averaging 12.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. He shoots 50.8% from the field and 38.9% from beyond the arc. He is one of the best shooters on the Wizards and so Jaylen needs to slow him down and limit his shots.
PROTECTION – Defense is always the key to victory. The Celtics must protect the paint without giving up their perimeter defense. The Wizards are second in the league, averaging 55.8 points in the paint per game. They need to make defense their priority and identity in order to win every game and win a championship. It will take a lot of effort and dedication from each player to play great team defense along with great individual defense.
rebound – It is important for teams to drop back to give themselves extra possessions and limit their opponents’ possessions. A big part of rebounding is effort and hustle and when the Celtics put extra effort and hustle on the boards, it usually translates to the rest of their game. The Celtics are first in the league with 47.5 rebounds per game, while the Wizards are last in the league with 40.6 rebounds per game. Each player must commit to knocking down the boards and going after each rebound at both ends of the court.
Be aggressive – In the past, the Celtics have lost games they should have won because they allowed teams to play harder and be more aggressive than them. The Celtics should be the more aggressive team defensively, rebounding, chasing loose balls and getting the ball to the basket for the entire 48 minutes. They can’t let the Wizards’ 9-41 record lead them into the game expecting to win without trying. (See the Lakers game).
Stay focused – The Celtics need to stay focused. They have to stay focused on playing the right way, hitting and taking good shots, playing good defense, boxing and recovering, and having each other’s arms and to trust each other. They also need to focus on passing well and taking care of the ball because the Wizards are 4th at 18.1 points per game. It would be easy to let their focus fall on that, but it would be a huge mistake on their part.
Game at home – The Celtics are at home again. They should get a boost from the home crowd and being in familiar surroundings. The Celtics need to have a sense of urgency at home to defend home court and not expect to win because the Wizards have not been good so far this season. 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.
Making it official – Officiating is always an x-factor in any game. Every crew works differently. Some call it tight, others let them play. Some favor the home team. Some favor the road team. Some just make bad calls, as we’ve seen many times. The Celtics need to adjust to how the refs call the game and not let bad calls and no calls take them out of the game or affect their focus. They should stay focused on the game and not complain about the referees.