Watch It! - Celtics at Wizards
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards meet at 7 p.m. tonight night at the Verizon Center.
Rondo is Back
Rajon Rondo will be back in the lineup tonight after dabbling in broadcast journalism Monday night in Chicago. He worked as a color analyst during the game, which he missed to rest his surgically repaired right knee.
Boston’s offense should receive a great boost with Rondo back on the court. The team’s offensive splits don’t indicate that the offense is any better with Rondo in the game, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Rondo’s presence results in much better ball movement, and in turn, much better shots. The Celtics just haven’t been hitting those shots with great regularity since Rondo returned to the lineup on Jan. 17.
You don’t have to look very far for evidence of these facts. Boston scored 102 points against Chicago’s vaunted defense on Sunday night when Rondo played. The C’s managed just 80 points against the Bulls on Monday when Rondo did not play.
Is Bradley Out?
While Boston will have Rondo back in its lineup, it may be without the other half of its starting backcourt. Avery Bradley missed the second half of Monday’s game due to a sore right ankle. Brad Stevens discussed the injury following the game.
“All I know is, I don’t know if you saw it, but with like a minute left in the first half I took him out and he was limping because he looked like he landed funny or he did something,” Stevens said. “It didn’t sound like it was a long-term thing when (athletic trainer) Ed (Lacerte) told me at halftime. It sounded like his Achilles was very sore. He couldn’t get it loose. That’s as far as I got.”
And now that’s as far as we’ve gotten. Bradley’s status remains uncertain for tonight’s game and that’s a major issue for Boston. He had averaged 17.2 PPG over his previous five games prior to being injured Monday night.
Wiz’s Elite Guard Play
Washington is likely headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The biggest reason why is its starting backcourt.
John Wall and Bradley Beal have teamed up to become one of the most promising young backcourts in the NBA. Outside of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in Golden State, the Wall-Beal combo may be the best young backcourt duo in the league.
Wall became an All-Star for the first time this season and enters tonight’s action with averages of 19.9 points per game, 8.7 assists per game and 4.1 rebounds per game. Beal, in just his second season out of Florida, is averaging 16.9 PPG and has emerged as one of the NBA’s top 3-point threats. He has made 41.4 percent of his 3s this season, and he takes them in bulk.
Boston has limited Beal to 1-of-8 shooting from long range during two meetings this season but t hasn’t been able to contain Wall. Washington’s point guard has averaged 24.0 PPG, 9.5 APG and 7.0 RPG against the C’s this season.
Play in Attack Mode
The Wizards are almost a lock to be playing in the postseason but they haven’t been playing very well of late. Washington has gone 3-5 over its last eight games.
One number that jumps off the page when analyzing Washington’s last eight games is 25.6, which represents the amount of free throws its opponents have averaged during that time span. Opponents have cashed in on an average of 19.9 of those attempts. To put that into perspective, only four teams in the league (the Rockets, Clippers, Timberwolves and Kings) average more than 19.9 made free throws per game this season.
Boston should take note of these facts heading into tonight’s game. The Wizards have proven to be a foul-prone team of late and the C’s should attempt to take advantage of that.
More Minutes for Olynyk
Kelly Olynyk has logged more than 20 minutes of playing time only twice in his last eight games. The reasoning behind his limited playing time is that many of Boston’s opponents have featured small lineups or super-athletic big men. That won’t be the case tonight.
Washington uses a frontline rotation that consists of Marcin Gortat, Trevor Booker, Drew Gooden and Kevin Seraphin. None of those players hold a drastic size or quickness advantage over Olynyk, which could lead to him receiving more minutes.
That wouldn’t be a bad thing for the Celtics considering how the rookie has played this month. Olynyk averaged 9.6 PPG and 5.5 RPG during the month of March despite playing just 20.6 minutes per game. He shot 51.5 percent from the field, 45.8 percent from 3-point range and 83.3 percent from the free-throw line during March.