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Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards meet at 7 p.m. tonight at the Verizon Center.
Brad Stevens held a thorough film review Monday morning that highlighted Boston’s recent defensive woes. When the Celtics emerged from the session they had fire in their eyes.
The C’s possessed a general feeling of disgust after dropping a 123-107 contest to Denver Sunday night on their home court, and it resulted in a boost of intensity during practice.
“Everybody’s trying to make sure they aren’t that guy on film again,” Smart said while blinking through beads of sweat following Monday’s practice.
Boston has allowed at least 123 points during both of its last two contests. Opposing teams reached that mark just four times last season, when the Celtics were tied for the fourth-best defensive rating in the league.
Many of Boston’s players have noted that good defense is more of a product of effort than skill, so they know that if they come with the right mindset tonight against the Wizards, they can recreate the stellar defense they produced last season. Hopefully their frustration following Sunday’s loss will fuel them on that end of the floor.
Wizards Searching for Some Magic
Boston won’t be the only agitated team entering tonight’s matchup; the Wizards are also experiencing a great deal of frustration after a 1-5 start.
Many pundits expected Washington to be a playoff caliber team this season, but at the moment it possesses the second-worst record in the East. Only the 0-6 Philadelphia 76ers sit below the Wizards in the standings.
“Nobody is happy,” guard Bradley Beal said Monday after Washington’s 114-106 loss to Houston. “Everyone’s emotions are a little high. Everybody is mad. We’re 1-5. We didn’t expect it to be like this.”
Make that two teams that will have fire in their bellies tonight.
Olynyk Plans to Play
For a couple of weeks it’s been said that Kelly Olynyk’s return from his right shoulder injury would be “right around the corner.”
Well, it appears the 7-footer may have finally turned that corner.
Olynyk, who has been recovering from shoulder surgery since mid-May, stated this morning that he expects to make his season debut tonight against the Wizards.
Regardless of whether Olynyk starts in place of a concussed Al Horford, or if he comes off the bench per usual, his presence will be an immense boost for Boston’s shorthanded frontcourt, which is also still without Jae Crowder (ankle).
Boston’s 3-Point Prowess
Olynyk’s return should also have a positive impact on Boston’s long-range shooting – not that that’s been an issue for the team through its first six games.
Boston has shot 38.3 percent from beyond the arc, which is the fifth-best percentage in the league. That’s a great sign of progression after tying for the second-worst mark in the NBA last season with a 33.0 percent clip from deep.
To add to that positivity, the Celtics will face a Wizards team tonight that currently ranks dead last in the league in 3-point defense. Washington has allowed opponents to shoot 39.5 percent from beyond the arc and surrendered 17 3-pointers to the Rockets on Monday.
The C’s Recent Dominance of Washington
The Celtics held greater command over the Wizards last season than they did over any other opponent. Boston won all four matchups against Washington and boasted an incredible average margin of victory of 20.0 points.
The Celts’ most recent trip to D.C. was on Jan. 25, when, on the second night of a back-to-back, they cruised to a 116-91 victory.
Hopefully last season’s dominance carries over tonight for Boston against a struggling Wizards team.