C’s Hope to Cool Down Washington’s Simmering Offense
WASHINGTON – Defense was relatively non-existent during the last matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards. A whopping 273 points were scored between the two squads Nov. 13 inside TD Garden, where Boston came away with a 140-133 victory in what was its highest scoring output in 27 years.
Tonight, the two teams will face off again in DC, and while the C’s would love to drop another buck-40 on the Wiz, their primary focus will be limiting the offensive production on the other end of the floor.
“They wake you up,” Marcus Smart said of Washington's offense following this morning's shootaround at Georgetown University. “If you’re not ready, you’re probably going to get your tails handed to you. They really put their opponents on alert, and you’ve got to be ready. If you fall asleep, it’s over. So, we’ve got to be ready to come out from the start and be able to run with them.”
Easier said than done. The Wizards are the fastest offensive team in the Eastern Conference, collectively moving at an average speed of 4.69 miles per hour on that end of the floor. Such speed has contributed to them also owning the second-fastest pace (103.56 possessions per game) in the East, only behind the first-place Milwaukee Bucks (104.84 possessions per game).
“They’re really fast,” Brad Stevens said. “They get up the court extremely quickly, and the way that they can sustain a 48-minute pace is special.
“And then,” added the coach, “they do a great job of playing five-out and they do a great job of moving the ball side to side; it doesn’t stick. The guys that will go off the dribble are usually doing it off of a pass, off of a live dribble, and they do so with quick decisions, whether that’s (Bradley) Beal, whether that’s Isaiah (Thomas), whether that’s Troy Brown, whether that’s (Jordan) McCrae or anybody else that they’re going to. They have a lot of good isolation and one-on-one guys, but they don’t wait to be isolated. They don’t wait to play one-on-one. They go before the defense is set. It’s pretty impressive.”
What’s also impressive is how deep Washington’s offense goes. Beal, who is questionable for tonight’s game with left leg soreness, is the clear-cut centerpiece of the team, as he’s averaging 27.8 points per game. Though, there are so many other options behind him who are capable of contributing as well.
The Wizards currently have eight players who are averaging double-figures in scoring, and another – Brown – who is putting up 9.9 PPG. Just the other night against Denver, speedy point guard Ish Smith (32 points) and Brown (25) points led Washington's bench to a 92-point effort.
“That’s jarring,” said Stevens, who then noted that he was just a year old the last time an NBA bench scored that many points in a game.
In order to combat such scoring potential, Boston’s third-ranked defense must apply a great deal of pressure, said Jaylen Brown. And the C’s must especially be on their toes while defending the fast-break.
“For them, their whole offense is transition, whether it’s a make or a miss,” Brown said. “So it is extremely difficult because they want to play at that pace. We’ve just got to match their intensity and not get lost in the sauce.”
At the moment, Washington’s offensive sauce is simmering, so the C’s defense will have to stir up something special in order to come away with a win tonight.