Boston: 98.6 points/100 possessions (19th)
Washington: 91.4 points/100 possessions (30th)
Boston: 98.4 points/100 possessions (11th)
Washington: 103.4 points/100 possessions (25th)
Probable ‘Zards Starters: John Wall (PG), Nick Young (SG), Chris Singleton (SF), Andray Blatche (PF), JaVale McGee (C)
Washington: Ronny Turiaf is out.
Boston: Rajon Rondo made the flight to D.C. but may not play. Keyon Dooling and Chris Wilcox are probably out. Jermaine O’Neal is permanently day-to-day. Shaquille O’Neal is retired. Larry Bird is not walking through that door.
View From The Opposing Bench: Truth About It
“You can say it really kills you to lose, but until it really kills you? For me, for 3-4 weeks, I’ve been on a steady diet of Subway, which is 20 minutes from my condo, and I bring it back up to my apartment. Because like I said, you don’t feel good about yourself. As a team, that’s how it has to be. It has to really hurt a lot.” — Flip Saunders
Here’s a game NBA TV would probably love to wipe off its schedule. It’s an interesting contrast in that Boston and Washington have taken very different routes to get the same awful results. The Wizards are young, energetic and talented but largely clueless whereas the Celtics are smart and cagey but decrepit and on the verge of being scattered to the NBA winds.
Here’s a fun fact that should either depress or excite you depending on your perspective: 40% of Boston’s wins this season have come against the Wiz, a team so hapless that they can’t even execute breakaway dunks without inflaming public opinion against them:
Last year, we would have referred to this game — a Sunday matinee against the worst team in the league — as a trap game. We would have been concerned about the Celtics playing down to the level of their competition. Today, with a gimpy Rondo (if any Rondo at all), the worry is more that Washington is Boston’s level of competition.
Some questions for today: will Boston move the ball enough to take advantage of the Wizards’ habit of enthusiastically losing track of their assignments after a few passes? Will the C’s be able to handle the athleticism of a Washington team emboldened by a win against OKC and a near-miss against Denver this week?
The Wizards would be smart to push the pace early against the Celtics, who may come out sluggish with the early start time. Confidence is key. If Washington can get out in transition, they can get Boston back on its heels and two things will result — the Wizards will start believing they can win and Boston will start believing Washington can beat them.
But if the Celtics come out and execute their defense (especially in the paint against Washington’s bigs), it should be a simple matter of waiting for Washington to make mistakes and then capitalizing. The Wizards make bad decisions on offense, gunning too early and from the wrong spots. They’re the worst offensive team in the league.
Boston doesn’t need to play brilliantly to win. They just need to play well.
Of course, that didn’t happen Friday against Phoenix, which makes you wonder if all this talk of decline and deconstruction is bothering the C’s more than they’re willing to admit.
Boston 82 Washington 76