The Washington Wizards are taking their show on the road tonight after a huge win over the San Antonio Spurs at home in D.C. on Wednesday. The Spurs are a team that has been in contention for nearly a decade, the Celtics are trying to work their way back to being a consistent playoff team in the woeful Eastern Conference. They’ll have their work cut out for them as they’ll have to deal with John Wall and Bradley Beal, although Boston had success containing Bradley last season. This is a much different player, a different beast so to speak. The guy just scored 20 plus points over arguably the league’s best perimeter defender, Kawhi Leonard. Washington comes into the matchup with a 3-1 record, while the Celtics are 1-3 after a close loss to the Pacers on Wednesday.
That being said, here’s a few things to focus on during tonight’s game as Boston looks for their second win of the season and the Wizards try to get their fourth win of the young season.
Different Beal. It starts there, the Celtics had Beal’s number last season holding him to just 11 points on 31% shooting from the floor. Fast forward to this season, this Beal. The youngster in a contract year is averaging 25.3 points a game this season while shooting a blistering 46.4% from beyond the arc. His confidence and bravado has helped him evolve into a cold-blooded killer in the fourth quarter of games this season. He hit the game winning triple to beat the Spurs on Wednesday night and is averaging 10.3 points in the final quarters of games this season. In “winning time” the kid is shooting a paltry 53.3% from the floor.
Fast Start. It’s imperative that the Wizards own the opening period, Boston is struggling with their scoring in the first quarter through four games. On the year, they’re averaging just 19 points a game which is the worst in the league. However, they’re also leading the league in points scored in the fourth quarter with 30 per. This is exactly why Washington has to get off to a fast start, their defense hasn’t been stellar this season and Boston hit 10 triples in the fourth against the Pacers the other night. Put them away early and keep the foot on the gas.
Key Matchup. As crazy as this sounds, the biggest matchup in this game is at the point guard position. While many discredit Isaiah Thomas presence in the league, the diminutive guard is averaging 23.5 points a game and is the most capable person on their roster in breaking down a defender or defense off the dribble. Wall’s defense was impressive last season, he’s raised the bar for himself this season and it shows. If he’s able to set the tone early, take Thomas away as an option for the Celtics this game may get ugly very quick. With Beal’s production, it gives Wall a bit more leeway to expend even more energy on defense as he can do what he does best and facilitate on the other end. Thomas has to have a big night if the Celtics want to get the win.