The Boston Celtics head to the District to take on the Washington Wizards for the third time this season. Last time these teams faced each other, it ended in a close game with a score of 115-112. Bradley Beal put on a scoring masterclass, scoring 36 points to lead the Wizards to a win. These two teams haven’t squared off since October 30th but both teams surely have this game as a must win on their priority list.
The Celtics and the Wizards have been hovering around the same place in the standings in a tough Eastern Conference, with both squads currently sitting in a spot to play in the play-in games. Washington currently sits in ninth place while the Celtics are currently in tenth place. A huge turnaround is necessary for both clubs as they have both been underperforming to their standards of reaching the playoffs. Both teams come into this macthup having gone 5-5 in their last ten games and each on a two game losing steak so the time for change is apparent. With each team struggling mightily this season, this game might be a preview of a possible play-in show-down come April.
How Boston can win: Although the Celtics have had a disaster of a season after starting off 10-3, this team still has some amazing qualities to work with. Forward Jayson Tatum has been performing incredibly well this season to try and carry the Celtics to wins. Tatum is currently avergaging 25.2 points per game which is good for tenth in league scoring. His co-star Jaylen Brown has also been playing at a solid level averaging 24 points per game himself. These two have been the driving force of the Celtics for a while now and still continue to be the reason they win games.
Outside of this, the Celtics’ defense has also been a key factor in their wins this season. They have a defensive rating of 108 which ranks sixth in the league. With great play from their defensive stalwarts like Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and contributions from the rest of the team they’ve been playing great defensive basketball. As long as they continue this defensive showcase, especially on the perimeter, they can defeat the Wizards. The Wizards are ranked 27th in team three point percentage at 32.6 so limiting these attempts especially against a team with solid shooters like Bradley Beal, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Kyle Kuzma will help them succeed.
How Washington can win: After trading away Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Wizards built themselves a team with solid depth to support their superstar Bradley Beal. For a few years now, Beal has been the sole reason for any sort of winning and the shining light of hope for the Wizards. Now they have a great selection of complimentary pieces to surround and support him. This off-season they added Spencer Dinwiddie, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, and Daniel Gafford, all of which have helped relieve a ton of pressure off of Beal.
Some of these players have also had some major transformations as well including Kyle Kuzma, who has begun to blossom as he has been embracing a larger role in Washington. He’s averaging 15.7 points per game with a 45.4 field goal percentage while rebounding more with 8.8 per game and 2.2 assists per game. Deni Avdija, who the Wizards drafted ninth overall in 2020, has been a huge defensive stopper. With his size and anticipation, Deni has been great at the small forward position, being able to guard a many positions on opposing teams. His offense still needs to get there but seeing this leap in his defense is huge for his development and for the future of the Wizards.
The key to success for the Wizards is rather simple, outscore the opponent. It seems self-explanatory as that is the entire point of basketball, but the Wizards are actually one of the best scoring teams in the NBA. Despite owning an offensive rating of 110.3, which ranks in the middle of the pack, they still convert at a high clip. Even though Beal averages the most points on the team, almost every player on the team has been scoring with great efficiency. The team owns a field goal percentage of 46.9, which is 5th best in the entire league. So if they want to beat the Celtics, they’re going to have to contain Tatum and Brown and play strong defense.
The Spread Via FanDuel:
Moneyline: WAS: (-104) | BOS: (-112)
Spread: WAS: +1 (-110) | BOS: -1 (-110)
Final Prediction: Boston Celtics 121 Washington Wizards 116
The Celtics have the ability to matchup against any team most nights despite the tough season they are having. The Wizards may have bested them last time, but the Celtics play a lot better on the defensive end of the floor which is where the Wizards continue to struggle. Tatum and Brown are going to will them to a win, with a potential for a 30+ point game from either. Expect the Celtics to come back with a vengeance, after a disappointing loss to the Portland Trailblazers, and get a win.