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Wizards at Celtics Pregame: Going Big Time In Beantown

Regular Season Game 38

Wizards (19-18) at Celtics (23-15)

January 11, 2017 at 8:00 PM
Verizon Center | Washington, DC
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic
Radio: 1500 AM

Last time they met was..

November 9, 2016 – Verizon Center, Washington: Wizards 118, Celtics 93
Recap: Otto Porter Has A Career Night As Wizards Thrash Celtics 118-93

What to watch:

A soft “must-win” situation for the Wizards.

This obviously is far from a do-or-die scenario for the Wizards, however, to beat a top-tier Eastern Conference foe and in doing so rise a whopping TWO games over .500 would be very, very cool. The Wizards are longing to finalize their statement to the world that they are a legitimate threat among the many average teams clogging up the middle of the Eastern Conference. Winning a game of this magnitude will certainly help, not only in providing that statement to the Celtics and the rest of the East, but it will jump the Wizards a few spots up the conference standings. Only five games separate the third-seeded Celtics and the 11th seed Knicks and a win tonight for the Wizards will bounce them to within 2.5 games of Boston.

Key Matchup:

John Wall vs. Isaiah Thomas

Tonight features another chapter of what is seemingly becoming a very high profile rivalry between two NBA point guards. IT has simply been incredible this season, catapulting himself into the discourse of top point guards in the league as well as generating debates on how he compares to John Wall. His 27.9 points per game is a career-high and is 6th best among scorers this season. Like Wall, Thomas has also enjoyed a 52 point game just two weeks ago. Unlike Wall, Thomas is not as much a formulator of offense for his teammates, averaging just 6.5 assists per game to Wall’s third-best 10.3.

Recent history has been heavily on Thomas’ side, however. Last season, Thomas led a season-sweep of Wall’s Wizards, besting Wall in the head-to-head win-loss column as well as on the stat sheet. Outside of the thrilling 119-117 Boston victory in which Wall and Thomas scored 36 and 32 points respectively, Wall had suffered some pretty bad games against the Celtics last year, averaging just 10.3 points to go with 8 assists per game in the other three games. He totaled 21 turnovers in that series. Earlier this season, however, Wall’s 19 and 7 contributed to the Wizards’ onslaught of the Celtics. While Isaiah did manage 23 and 10 of his own, a good amount of those points came from the free throw line, as he missed 12 of 18 shots from the field.


Ummm…dare I say it…the bench??

The Wizards have been void of contribution from their bench for a better part of the season, but the reality is that if the Wizards have any desire of establishing themselves as a force, they will need to generate some confidence in their bench. We all know Wall will be the leader. Beal is going to get his. Otto is always a problem. There’s always great hope in Kieff. And Gortat will be solid enough. Beyond those five starters is where the air gets muggy in the Wizards roster. A mysterious aura in which we are all incognizant of who is going to perform well and who’s to completely f*ck up.

Now the Celtics don’t have the world’s most renowned second units, but they’ve got characters that fit the role of a potential Wizards Killer. Kelly Olynyk, Gerald Green and Marcus Smart are to name a few.

Fun Factor:

John Wall will not only be part of the main event in his matchup against Isaiah Thomas, but he’ll aslo be on the undercard in a match against Marcus Smart. Smart took exception to Wall’s late hard foul in the winding minutes of the Wizards’ blowout back in November. The foul was called a flagrant 2 which dismissed John Wall from the game and armed Smart with a full clip of post-game quotes:

“He made a hard foul, and I didn’t take too fond of it. So, I let him know what I had to say. I ain’t backing down from nobody, and that’s going to be understood from here on out. I don’t know what he thought, but I think he got the message.”

Apparently, Wall had been frustrated all game long by Boston’s roughness and the refs refraining from giving him calls. And, thusly, it was Smart who had to take the brunt of Wall’s angst:

Let’s see if any of this extends into tonight.


Wall steps up in the 4th to will the Wizards to a glorious victory over a prominent conference rival. But not without a struggle against a rising star in Isaiah Thomas. Meanwhile, Marcus Smart wants no parts of John Wall. The Wizards prevail on the road and the good times continue.

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