Opening Statements: Wizards vs Celtics, Game 29 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Celtics, Game 29

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Updated: December 27, 2014

[Ed. Note: Bryan Frantz is a native of Washington, D.C., and a recent graduate from UNC – Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism with a focus on sports communications. He’s been an avid follower of D.C. sports since he was born and has contributed to blogs such as MisterIrrelevant.com and HailRepublic.com. Today he makes his TAI debut with Opening Statements for tonight’s Wizards-Celtics contest. You can follow Bryan on Twitter: @BFrantz202. —KW]

Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics - Nov. 7, 2012 - Truth About It.net

Early in December, the Wizards and Celtics split a home-and-home series, with each team winning on its home court. In the first game, on Dec. 7, Rajon Rondo dropped a triple-double (13 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, plus three steals just for kicks) in a 101-93 Celtics win. A little more than 24 hours later, John Wall put up 26 points, 17 assists, seven rebounds and three steals of his own in an instant-classic 133-132 Wizards win in double overtime.

You might remember that second game as the Miyah night.

As much fun as that back and forth between Wall and Rondo was, round three is going to have to wait just a little longer, as Rondo has since been shipped to the Dallas Mavericks. Coincidentally, the Wizards travel to Dallas on Tuesday, so it’s only being pushed back two games on the schedule.

Rondo was the centerpiece of a five-player deal that brought point guard Jameer Nelson, wing Jae Crowder and big man Brandan Wright to Boston. The Celtics also added a massive $12.9 million trade exception and a couple of draft picks in the trade, adding to their already impressive collection; Boston has a ridiculous eight first-round picks in the next four years, and, as it currently stands, eight of the 15 players on its roster are under the age of 25.

In Rondo’s place at point guard will be some combination of Nelson, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart.

Nelson, 32, spent most of his career running the point for the Orlando Magic before signing with Dallas in July. He’s probably going to end up serving as a mentor for the young players more than anything else while in Boston. Think Andre Miller. At just 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, Bradley is built to run the point, but that’s usually only where the Celtics would play him when Rondo was injured.

They drafted Marcus Smart out of Oklahoma State, who was assumed to be the heir apparent to Rondo, with the No. 6 pick in the draft and took Kentucky shooting guard James Young at No. 17. Young and Smart (the jokes are too easy) seem primed to be the backcourt of the future for the Celtics, something at least one Boston fan was excited about on draft night.

Young has been injured throughout the season and is fighting for playing time with fellow shooting guards Marcus Thornton and Evan Turner, but Smart has already shown flashes this year.

Naturally, the best game of his young career came in the double OT game against the Wizards at Verizon Center. The 20-year-old dropped 23 points on 14 shots and actually played over a healthy Rondo down the stretch, because the Wizards simply couldn’t stop him. His strength and physicality allowed him to have his way with the Washington defense while sparking an enormous Celtics run. It wasn’t just on offense that he used his strength to his advantage; look at how he muscles up with Paul Pierce, who has three inches and 15 pounds over Smart, on defense.

 

Smart also had five assists, four boards and two steals without a turnover in that game, so he might just have some Rondo in him after all.

Whoever wins the starting job will probably perform adequately, as they’re all talented players, Brad Stevens is a terrific coach and Boston is a well-run team. That’s all fine and good, but it’s unlikely we’ll see any next-level back and forth like Wall vs. Rondo provided, which is disappointing.

For what it’s worth, since the Rondo deal went down, the Celtics have played four games (and lost three of them). In those four games, Smart started two at point guard, Nelson started one and Bradley started one. Bradley started the other three games at shooting guard, then Evan Turner filled in when Bradley took over the point.

Oh yeah, and Phil Pressey is still in Boston. Yes, the same Phil Pressey who put up 20 points in 10 shots against Washington at Verizon Center last year, in the same game that Jeff Green went off (more on that in a moment). Pressey has never scored more than 14 points as a pro, excluding that game. The Wizards seem to love giving up career games to opponents (Solomon Hill, Norris Cole and Donald Sloan this year, to name a few).

Another storyline to keep an eye on, though admittedly lacking in luster compared to the earlier matchups, is Pierce taking on the team he spent 15 seasons with.

Fifteen seasons!

It’s crazy to think Pierce played for Boston longer than many players stay in the league, then played in Brooklyn for a year and is only now in D.C. He’s been with the Wizards for just 28 games, yet it feels like he and Wall have been taking over games together for years.


Teams: Wizards vs Celtics
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Chinatown, D.C.
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 9.5 points.


Three Things to Watch:

1. Can anybody stop Jeff Green?

The man just loves to light up the Wizards.

I get it, he’s a D.C. kid. He grew up in Cheverly, went to Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, MD, then Georgetown and only left the area when he got drafted into the NBA. Every D.C. sports fan should have a bit of a soft spot in their heart for him, as he’s as local as they come. But it’s hard to root for the guy when he decimates the Wizards at every chance.

Green put up 25 against the Wizards in Boston a few weeks ago, then he put up 28 more the next night in D.C. He was scoring at will, whether it counted or not.

Last season, Green dropped 39 on Washington at Verizon Center, which is tied for the second most he’s ever scored as a pro. In fact, he’s averaging exactly 20 points per game at Verizon Center, well above his 14.4 career scoring average overall.

Green is supposedly available to interested teams, and I realize it’s a longshot and wouldn’t make a lot of sense for the Wizards to trade for him, but it might be the only way to stop him from putting up 20-plus points against them every night. Back in May, Grantland’s Zach Lowe mentioned the Wizards having interest in snagging him up, but that ship could very well have sailed.

He has a $9.2 million player option for next season, which he should probably take as it’s unlikely anybody else is going to give him that kind of money next year, but he could still command a hefty salary on the open market. If he opts out and wants to join a contender for a greatly reduced salary, I imagine Washington would welcome him with open arms.

2. Kevin can’t miss

The real player to watch—as we all know—is Kevin Seraphin. Seraphin, who went 1-for-1 in the first game and 5-for-5 in the second against Boston, could be on his way to the rare no-miss series. I don’t know if that’s actually a thing, but it would be mildly impressive if Seraphin played three games against the Celtics and didn’t miss a shot.

3. A heated John Wall is a scary Wall

If John Wall looks like this, Celtics fans beware.

 

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Bryan Frantz
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Bryan is a D.C. native with a degree in something or other from UNC. He has important, interesting hobbies, but mostly he just weeps over D.C. sports teams. You can find him on the Metro, inevitably complaining about Red Line delays.