First off, there will be no Shaq-tus tonight. The big man will remain in Sudbury, nursing a sore right hip. I wish him a speedy recovery!
The Celtics play in Washington tonight, and are looking to extend their win streak to 6 after thrashing the Jazz in a a blowout last night. The Wizards also played last night, and lost to Phoenix, 109-91. When you consider it's the Wizards we're talking about, they've actually been pretty decent at home this year, posting a 12-9 record. Too bad they're 0-20 on the road. Whoa.
The last time these two teams played, Boston won 114-83. Rondo was the team leader in minutes, at 30, followed by Ray Allen (27)- but after that, no starter played more than 25 minutes. The Celtic bench performed well in that game, extending a 20 point Celtic lead in to a 37 point lead. You go bench mob, I'll take another one of those type of performances tonight.
Both teams will look a little different this time around. For the Celtics, there will be no Shaq or Delonte, both of whom played last time. As for the Wizards, they've shipped Gilbert Arenas off to Orlando, and picked up Rashard Lewis. John Wall was absent from the lineup last time, but will be active tonight.
So how do the Celtics get a repeat performance?
-Move the ball: During the last match up, the Wizards had 12 assists as a team, in comparison with Boston's 32. By moving the ball around and getting everyone involved, the Celtics should get some easy points.
-Rebound: The Wizards have several effective rebounders in McGee, Blatche and Thornton. Like I always say, the Celtics need to limit the amount of second chance points that they allow.
-Contain Nick Young: He was the Wizard's leading performer during the last match up (20 points, 1 rebound), and has been playing solid basketball as of late. John Wall has been struggling offensively (Washington has lost back to back games and he shot 7-24 from the field), but this seems to have made some room for Young to excel. Over the course of the last 6 games, Young has averaged 26 points and has shot 50 percent from three point range.
The headlines will probably all be about the Rondo-Wall match up, and rightfully so... But I'll also be keeping an eye out for Garnett-Blatche. There's some history there:
“Saunders said the Wizards looked ‘discombobulated’ down the stretch, even failing to be in the right position after timeouts. He also was upset with Blatche for engaging in some fourth-quarter in trash talk with Garnett, which helped turn the game in the Celtics’ favor. ‘We beat ourselves by getting them energized, which got their crowd energized,’ Saunders said. ‘Dray is wolfing the whole time at Kevin Garnett. You can’t do those kinds of things. When you’re coming up and establishing yourself, you don’t take a guy that’s been defensive player of the year and is probably the best power forward and get that guy juiced up to play against you. You got no chance.’ Blatche was noticeably upset and appeared to hold back tears as he explained his encounter with Garnett, which nearly got heated when Garnett approached Blatche and tried to wrestle the ball away from him. Blatche appeared to throw an elbow as Garnett continued to taunt him. Blatche later flung Garnett into a cameraman and sent him to the foul line for two free throws. Garnett smiled as he was helped off the ground. Reserve forward James Singleton said Garnett used his ‘veteran senses’ to needle Blatche and get under his skin.” via Slam online