Trudging to the finish line: Washington Wizards @ Boston Celtics preview

Washington Wizards logo from 1997–2011

Anyone hate the end of DST? I’m so looking forward to the day going into early night. Not.

Back to the Celtics however. Despite Shavlik #ShavKill looking like an absolute star out there, foul trouble, poor scoring (excuse: lack of KG and PP) and whistles (I love this excuse) gave the Cavs the victory in the end. It’s unlikely we’ll be moving to the dreaded 8th seed in a first-round matchup against Miami, so I’m really sleepwalking at this point as we march slowly towards the blissful end.

Reality check: this team is almost a totally different roster (Shavlik/Crawford/Williams/White added) from what we had at season start (sans Darko/Sully/Rondo/Barbosa/Collins). Despite the fact that we should cut everyone some slack for the on-the-fly adjustments still being made, the performance we have had so far without KG and Truth is really gnawing at me. Hard. It’s tough to stay confident when we can’t close out games like these with ease, really.

Still, this is a back-to-back game for the Wizards, so we’ve got home advantage and energy on our side. Right?

Stat check: The Wizards are third in the Southeast Division behind Miami and Atlanta, won 6 of their last 10 games, and recently killed the Pacers 104-85 at home.

Game time: April 8th 2013, 0900hrs AEDT

Watch it on: NBA League Pass

Roster changes:

  1. Rajon Rondo (ACL) and Jared Sullinger (back) are out for the season
  2. Terrence Williams is day-to-day with a broken finger
  3. Avery Bradley is day-to-day with a bruised collarbone
  4. Paul Pierce is day-to-day with his ankle
  5. Kevin Garnett’s ankle is not looking better, definite out
  6. Bradley Beal is out for the season (leg)
  7. Leandro Barbosa is out for the season (ACL)

Top enemy performers:

  1. Scoring: John Wall (18.0)
  2. Rebounds: Emeka Okafor (9.0)
  3. Assists: John Wall (7.6)

Keys to the game:

  1. Stopping JohnThe Wizards are a different animal when John Wall is around. Derrick Rose he may not be, but the man sure can score – check out the 37 point, 16 of 25 show he had in the Indy game. Add 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks to the menu and we’re looking at an all-rounder. I’ve got my eye on the 38 minutes he spent on the court though – this is going to count. That being said, Avery still needs to read the refs better – the zebra guys are calling the fouls tighter, and he has to learn to adjust to their calls. Total faith in #ZeroTolerance, let’s keep the D up!
  2. Free throw disparity. This is an interesting stat. The Wizards starters combined for 23 free throw attempts at home against Indiana, whereas the Pacers starters only had 12. The C’s are not exactly elite when it comes to getting to the line, and we need to keep this number close. Should PP not be playing, the guys will have to match aggressiveness and force the issue at the rim – jacking mid-range shots, not the answer. I like the way Crawford and Williams are driving, and much as I like Avery’s shooting, I’d like to see more layups.
  3. The paint battle. Okafor, Nene and Seraphin; Wilcox, Bass and Shavlik are going to have their work cut out for them. I want to see solid D, zero fouls and a block party started right after tipoff, but wishes are wishes. I’ll settle for not giving the Wizard bigs easy shots (or open dunks). Keep them working for their shots, don’t give up easy rebounds.

A tired John Wall, back-to-back games (travel), and home court advantage. Does this equate to a win? I’m not totally confident, but once again I’m going to go for a close game and a possible win if Green has a big night and everyone else plays up to scratch.


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