After giving up a 21-point lead and ultimately falling to the Detroit Pistons, the Boston Celtics look to bounce back against the Washington Wizards at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday. It’ll be the first matchup of the season between these two teams. The Wizards seem to be in the exact same spot the Celtics are in with only a half-game lead over Boston at an 11-13 record while the C’s hold a 12-15 record. The Wizards have a tough, young team that holds much potential. Here are the keys for a Celtics’ victory.
The Wizards have two terrific, young guards who know how to score. Bradley Beal and John Wall complement each other very well. Beal is deadly from three, and Wall can score in a variety of ways. They are both capable of scoring over 20 on any given night. What’s most impressive is the assist numbers for Wall. He’s averaging about nine a game, and the Wizards, as a team, are ninth in the league with 23.1 assists a game. Avery Bradley will have his hands full on defense. Wall’s deceiving quickness and tricky ball handling skills could cause Bradley to be in foul trouble. Also, Jordan Crawford might be too weak of a defender to cover Beal. Therefore, look for increased minutes for Courtney Lee, who is an excellent defender. The combination of Lee and Bradley in the backcourt could be devastating for most teams, but against the Wizards it will be more of challenge. If the guards can slow down Beal and Wall, the Celtics take away most of the scoring from Washington.
Establish the Inside
With two respectable big men, the Wizards can do damage inside and easily take control of the boards. Marcin Gortat governs the paint with his defensive presence, and Nene Hilario cannot be ignored on offense. Standing at 6-foot-11, they both have length which has proven to be major problem for the Celtics. In order to negate the advantage, the Celtics must attack the paint and establish the inside game. Jeff Green and Crawford need to be aggressive and attack the basket in order to get the big men in foul trouble. Luckily, Jared Sullinger seems to be able to score no matter how tall the defender is. He and Brandon Bass need to establish the post on offense and then draw Gortat and Nene out of the paint by stretching the floor with their outside shot. This will give the guards more room to operate and give Sully and Bass some efficient looks from outside.
Obviously there is more that the Celtics need to do in order to win, but these two aspects make the little things easier to do. With such a small margin for error the Celtics need to make sure they execute on both ends of the floor.
Prediction: Wizards-99 Celtics-95