Preview: Boston Celtics vs Washington Wizards
Previewing a matchup between two under performing Eastern Conference teams
The Boston Celtics have had a lacklustre start to the season, particularly on the defensive end. The Celtics have been dealing with injuries since opening game, and until Al Horford, Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk are back on the floor, they will need to figure out new ways to win. The good news is that as bad as the start has been for the Celtics, they have avoided the kind of disastrous start that the Washington Wizards are in the midst of.
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The Celtics need to bounce back from their worst performance of the season against the Denver Nuggets, and they will look to exploit an underperforming Wizards team. That being said. the Wizards are a talented team that knows they need to put it together quickly, and they will want to exploit a Celtics defense that looks nothing like it did last year.
The good news is that the Celtics are at full strength where they need it the most, the back court. John Wall and Bradley Beal are one of the best back courts in the East, and the Celtics can feel comfortable about their matchup. The Celtics have both Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart to slow down the opposing back court, and these are the players that need to step up in order to keep the Celtics above .500.
The problem is that the Celtics are fresh off allowing Emmanuel Mudiay to have a career night. They have arguably the best defensive core of guards in the NBA, and they know that they need to carry this team on that end of the floor. If they can be disruptive and get back to generating the kind of turnovers that will take over the game, the Celtics should have no problem securing their fourth victory.
One way the Celtics have been getting abused this season is rebounding. They have lost games specifically because of offence rebounding, and their interior defense has been completely non existent without Crowder and Horford. The Wizards come in with a negative rebounding differential. They are much better than the Celtics this season, but that has not been an area of great strength. The Celtics should be able to limit the damage on the boards, and that takes away an area that has killed them multiple times this season.
The Wizards also have the second worst assist to turnover ratio in the league, and this would be a great opportunity for the Celtics to get back to generating the kind of steals that made them so good last year. The Celtics were as good as it gets in terms of generating turnovers last year, and they rank a lowly 28th with 6.7 steals per game.
The Celtics need their perimeter defense to get back on track, and this game against the Wizards presents a great opportunity for them to return to that great defensive form from last season.
The Celtics should feel confident that their back court can win them this game, but they still need to get some improvements in the front court. Both Beal and Wall could do a lot of damage in the paint and that could become problematic if the guards have no support behind them.
The Celtics also need to make sure they maintain their shooting. The offense has functioned well with the best assist to turnover ratio in the NBA, and they are getting the kind of shooting they only dreamed of last season, with a mark of 38.3 percent from three point range. The Celtics realize how much they need to do in order to make up for these injuries, and three point shooting has been one of the biggest reasons they have not dipped below .500.
The second unit will be unpredictable, and the Celtics still cannot depend on a strong impact from anyone other than Smart. They should not have to worry about the Wizards’ bench destroying this game, but that is another area the Celtics will need to make up for by generating steals and shooting the three ball.
The Wizards rank dead last, giving up 39.5 percent from three point range. The Celtics know they have a way that they can attack the Wizards, they just cannot fall into the trap of depending too much on the three point shot. The Celtics still have inconsistent shooters that need to prove they can maintain this pace, and the Wizards are a team they cannot fall flat on.
The Celtics could get some last minutes injury news but Horford has not progressed in the concussion protocol, and they need to be prepared to be without the same three players that have missed these last few games.
The Celtics have been vocal about their displeasure to start this season, and they should come out with a strong mentality against a Wizards team they know they can exploit. The Celtics realize that they have under performed and that needs to stop against the Wizards.