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Wizards and Celtics meet in Boston
The Wizards will make their lone trip to Boston this season on Friday night, facing the Celtics at 8:00 P.M. Coming off a big win in Brooklyn on Wednesday, the Wizards will look to sweep a pivotal road trip against a Celtics team that has lost four games in a row. In the first of three matchups earlier this season, the Celtics defeated the Wizards 130-125 in overtime. That game took place in December; the Wizards’ rotation has changed a lot, while the Celtics have kept the same team in tact all season.
TD Garden | 8:00 P.M. | NBC Sports Washington | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Tomas Satoransky, G – Bradley Beal, F – Trevor Ariza, F – Jeff Green, C – Bobby Portis
Celtics: G – Kyrie Irving, G – Marcus Smart, F – Jayson Tatum, F – Marcus Morris, C – Al Horford
Wizards: Dwight Howard (aggravated gluteal soreness – out), John Wall (left Achilles tendon tear – out)
Celtics: Terry Rozier (knee – probable), Aron Baynes (left foot contusion – out)
Beal looks to build off career month
Bradley Beal finished February with arguably the best individual month of his career. The two-time All-Star averaged 30.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game, while shooting 52.4% from the field and 94.5% from the free throw line. In three games since the All-Star break, Beal is scoring 37.3 points per game on 58.0% shooting overall, 37.0% from deep, and 100.0% from the free throw line on 22 attempts. Containing Beal has been no easy task lately; he’s scored 20 or more points in 15 straight games. The Celtics will likely have Marcus Smart guard Beal and double-team and blitz him often. Beal scored 12 points on 40 possessions against Smart on December 12, making 5-of-7 field goals and turning it over twice.
Aggressiveness, intensity on defense the key
After Wednesday’s win over the Nets, the Wizards credited their aggressiveness and intensity on defense. Trevor Ariza set the tone, and the rest of the team followed his lead. The Wizards were able to score 29 points off 16 Nets turnovers, interrupting passing lanes and forcing seven turnovers for 15 points to open the game in the third quarter. Playing solid defense against the Celtics will be a requirement for a win, but taking calculated risks and aggressive attempts on defense will be important as well. Guarding guys like Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, and the Celtics’ other talented rotation players will take great effort and intensity. Forcing miscues won’t be easy, as the Celtics rank third in the NBA in turnover percentage, but the Wizards know a victory starts on the defensive end.
Pivotal March begins
Friday marks the beginning of March, a month in which the Wizards will play 16 games. Washington will play nine of its first 12 games at home, followed by a four-game West coast road trip. Currently three games back of a playoff spot in the East, the month of March will certainly make or break the Wizards’ season. Per tankathon.com, of the teams competing for the six through eight seeds in the East, the Wizards have the easiest strength of schedule remaining (27th), followed by the Magic (26th), Pistons (22nd), Heat (9th), Hornets (5th), and Nets (3rd). With so much roster movement and unfortunate injuries, putting together a winning March would be an impressive feat and give the Wizards a chance to make the postseason.