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Wizards at Celtics Pregame: Pierce must overcome Beantown emotions


Washington (13-5) at Boston (6-11)

December 7, 2014 at 1:00PM
TD Garden, Boston, MA
TV: CSNWashington
Radio: 99.1FM

When the Wizards start to play meaningful regular season games in a time slot competitive to a Redskins game, I think it’s safe to say ‘we done made it’. A 1:00 PM tip off time on a Sunday afternoon while the ‘Skins kick off at FedEx against the Rams will have DC sports fans forced to choose between watching what’s been poisoning the city, or watching what’s been #dcRISING. That had some nice touch to it.

For Patriots fans, this game conveniently begins three hours before their football team takes the field, giving them the opportunity to embrace a former city legend as Paul Pierce returns to Boston for the first time as a Washington Wizard.

Pierce has dressed up in an opposing uni twice before – as a Brooklyn Net last season – but didn’t show up too well in the city he had spent the previous 15 years in. In two games against the Celts, Pierce combined for just 16 points on 6-21 shooting and missed all seven of his 3-point attempts. Playing in front of the fans who had essentially become family over the course of a decade and a half can be an emotion wrecker and for Pierce, there’s no hiding in the fact that it has been one. He recently shared his sentiments as a contributing editor for The Players’ Tribune:

As for Pierce’s current team, the wonderful Wizards of DC, they’ve won four straight including the last three by an average margin of 22. The offense is starting to take shape as it continues to establish the identity of an uptempo, 3-point shooting, lane driving and midrange minimizing function. At least that’s what we hope it’s starting to look like.

Beantown, by the numbers:

  • Before back-to-back wins over the lowly Pistons and Lakers, the Celtics had lost 7 of their previous 8 games.
  • The Celtics rank first in the NBA in pace factor (100.5).
  • The Celtics rank 2nd in the NBA in total team assists per game, led by Rajon Rondo who leads the league in assists per game. (Wiz rank 3rd; Wall ranks 4th)

Last time they met was..

April 16, 2014 @ TD Garden, Boston. The Wizards won 118-112.

The regular season finale and one with an unprecedented storyline: the Wizards were headed to the postseason and the Celtics were not. This was the official 5th seed-clincher for the Wizards, saving them from a first-round matchup with the Raptors. The Wizards were led by 27 points from Bradley Beal and 20 from Trevor Booker.

Areas of Focus

  • Matching speed with speed, pace with pace.

Games the Wizards have struggled in this season are games where they have failed to push the ball and wreck havoc in transition. Today against the Celtics, a team who leads the league in possessions per game, it’ll be key for the Wizards to play their game and match Boston’s pace. As a team who leads the league in pace, the Celtics are obviously a team who is reliant on their speed both on offense and defense. They rank in the top in the league in opponents fast break points per game.

  • Getting Paul Pierce involved.

There’s really no hiding in the fact that Pierce has struggled a bit this season. In 17 games and in just 26 minutes averaged in those games, Pierce has generated a near career-low in FG percentage and is only shooting 30% from downtown. There’s no particular rhyme or reason to his struggles. In fact, he’s been missing a ton of good looks. However, we have seen Pierce go through enough spurts of good old fashioned basketball to be hopeful he can get it going early and suppress some of those emotions. Or at least transform some of those emotions and butterflies into momentum.

Who’s Out?

Wizards: Martell Webster.

Celtics: Vitor Faverani.

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