Washington at Boston
7:30 P.M. ET
Boston: 105.4 points/100 possessions (11th)
Washington: 98.3 points/100 possessions (27th)
Boston: 99.1 points allowed/100 possessions (6th)
Washington: 104.3 points allowed/100 possessions (12th)
Probable Wizards starters: Al Thornton (SF), Andray Blatche (PF), JaVale McGee (C), Gilbert Arenas (SG), Kirk Hinrich (PG)
Their beatdown of the hapless Raptors last night notwithstanding, the Wizards arrive on Causeway Street tonight primed to get smoked by a rested Celtics team better at almost every aspect of the game.
Reasons To Watch
If the outcome seems almost predetermined, there are plenty of other reasons to tune in for this one tonight. You know that’s true because I’ve used a lot of exclamation points below:
–Revenge! The Celtics took it on the chin from the Wizards in their last regular season meeting in April. Remember that one? The Celtics were deep into their second half funk, playing listless basketball and enraging message board posters all over the interwebs. Andray Blatche dropped a 31-point, 11-rebound night on the scowling visage of a still-recovering Kevin Garnett. You think KG and the Celtics have forgotten this? I don’t.
– Delonte! West begins his second go-around with Celtics tonight, after serving his 10-game suspension for expressing his full public support of the second amendment. A fan favorite during the 18-losses-in-a-row era, Delonte could really kick the bench mob to another level. He’ll likely be paired with Nate Robinson in the backcourt, freeing up Robinson to do what he does best – score. As well, West’s steady hand at the point should give Rajon Rondo some additional rest, if not tonight, then as he gets back into game shape. Plus, keep an eye out in the event Doc Rivers uses West to back up the 3-spot tonight, with Marquis Daniels unavailable. Seems like those minutes should go to Von Wafer.
– Rookies! John Wall may suit up for Washington, assuming his sprained ankle can hold up. Rajon always gets way too up against the top point guards in the league, to the point where it sometimes affects his game. But if Wall’s less than 100%, expect Rondo to treat him like a shark treats a bleeding middle-aged woman in the middle of the ocean. That’s a metaphor, by the way.
–More Rookies! Avery Bradley may suit up for Boston. He may even play, especially if the Celtics are way up at halftime. Same with Luke Harangody.
–Phoning It In! Your Celtics, knowing how much you love drama, have shown a tendency to turn big halftime leads against bottom feeders into close games. I know, I know – that was last year, when the team was all banged up. And this is 2010-11 and the team is fully healthy.
They’re not fully healthy?
Maybe we better do some more analysis. Meet me after the jump.
WHAT THE WIZARDS DO WELL:
Get Out In Transition: The Wizards turn their opponents over more than any team in the league besides Memphis. They’re also 5th in the league in block rate. That’s a heady combination, with Wall running the point and blazing up and down the court. If he plays tonight, watch for a back and forth high-turnover game (the C’s are 6th in Opponent’s Turnover Rate). If he doesn’t play, all bets are off on this front.
WHAT THE WIZARDS DO POORLY:
Score: Despite Wall, and Flip Saunders behind the bench, the early returns on the Wizards offense are poor. They’re 27th in efficiency and breaking down the individual components of that figure does them few favors. Without Wall, they could really struggle to score tonight. Hell, even with him they could struggle to score.
PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY:
Kirk Hinrich – Rondo and Ray Allen is usually a huge advantage for the Celtics, but the Wizards will start either Hinrich/Arenas or Wall/Hinrich and neither combo is an obvious pushover. Hinrich always does a great job covering Allen and had a solid game last night against the Raptors. From our friends over at Truth About It, the excellent Wizards blog:
With John Wall sitting out for the first time in his young career, Kirk Hinrich moved over to the point position and played 39 minutes of rock solid basketball against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night in a Wizards 109-94 win. Displaying the attention to detail that allows him to impact games despite average athleticism and skill level, Hinrich routinely made the hard rotation, the sharp pass, and the clever read on his way to a double-double delight — a 13 point, 12 assist, four rebound and two turnover performance.
PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY:
Anyone matched up against a motivated KG. Which I think we’ll see tonight.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM BOSTON TONIGHT:
Dominance. Rest for the starters in the second half. Delonte fitting in well with the second unit. What Von Wafer can do given real minutes. Appearances by Bradley and Harangody. And for pure entertainment value – let’s aspire to a ridiculous technical foul so Tommy Heinsohn can go nuts.
Enjoy the game, everyone.
Boston 107 Washington 95.