Watch It! - Wizards at Celtics
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards meet at 8 p.m. tonight night at TD Garden.
What’s on the Line?
It’s the final night of the NBA regular season, and there’s a lot on the line around the league. One of the most important results will be filed right here in Boston.
The final score of tonight’s game could make a major impact on the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Washington, which is currently the sixth seed in the East, could move up to the fifth seed with a victory. On the other hand, a loss could drop the Wizards down to the seventh seed. It’s possible that the result of this game will have an effect on three different playoff series.
Boston isn’t fighting for playoff seeding but it has a lot on the line as well, particularly from a mental standpoint. Every single team in the league wants to head into the offseason on a winning note. Doing so provides its players and coaches with a mental boost as they head into a long offseason. The Celtics would love to accomplish that goal with a victory tonight.
Protecting the Rim
Danny Ainge has said over and over that his top priority heading into next season is adding rim protection. We saw why Monday night.
The Celtics and 76ers met that night in Philadelphia and the home team dominated around the basket. Philadelphia scored an unbelievable 64 points in the paint, including 46 during the first half alone. The Sixers shot 32-of-49 (65.3 percent) overall in the painted area.
Boston will need to improve its interior defense tonight if it wants to avoid a similar result. The Wizards have already proven to be a strong force around the basket against the C’s, as they scored 50 points in the paint when these teams met two weeks ago. Washington’s starting center, Marcin Gortat, finished that game with 22 points and made nine of his 11 shots in the paint.
The Klynyk Continues
Kelly Olynyk has started during Boston’s last two games and he has played like the top big man in the NBA. No, we’re not exaggerating.
Olynyk averaged 26.5 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game over those two contests. He was the leading scorer in both games and put the ball through the basket at a very efficient rate. Olynyk shot 50.0 percent both from the field and from 3-point range during those games.
The rookie is likely to spend most of his time tonight playing against solid defenders in Gortat and Nene. We’ll have to wait and see if the Olynyk Klynyk can continue.
Final Bill of Health
The Celtics had only eight players available Saturday night when they crushed the Cavaliers in Cleveland. Boston may be faced with a similar task tonight during its final game of the season.
The team is officially listing Jared Sullinger, Jerryd Bayless and Kris Humphries as questionable, while Gerald Wallace and Vitor Faverani remain out after their surgeries. Additionally, it has been reported that Rajon Rondo, who missed two of the last three games with a bruised shin, “doesn’t know yet” whether he will play tonight.
If Rondo does not play, that could leave the Celtics in the same situation they were in on Saturday, with eight available players. That’s a difficult situation to handle while playing against a playoff team fighting for a better seed.
Expect an Aggressive Wall
John Wall is Washington’s leading scorer but he certainly didn’t play that way Monday night. The All-Star point guard scored a season-low four points against Miami while attempting only seven shots.
Don’t expect a similar performance out of Wall tonight. In fact, it may be a good decision to expect the opposite.
Wall averages 19.4 points per game and 16.3 field goal attempts per game this season. Those numbers have increased to 20.3 PPG and 19.0 shots per game during three contests against Boston.
Wall knows what’s on the line for his team tonight, and he knows his team needs him to be a dynamic offensive player to grab a win. Expect him to be aggressive in scoring the basketball.