Opening Statements: Wizards vs Celtics, Game 20 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Celtics, Game 20

Updated: December 8, 2014

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

A late Sunday afternoon flight from Boston to D.C. and a night of continued sleep, this time in their own beds, has most likely revived a laggard Wizards team that lost to the Celtics at TD Garden, 93-101. Strike that, it better. Washington plays the same Celtics tonight in the Verizon Center, plenty of time to recover.

Washington expended energy coming back from being down 25 points in the third quarter and Boston expended energy protecting the lead that they almost always lose (but not this time). There were no ties, no lead changes—the Celtics led from start to finish. Washington wasn’t exactly conserving energy to start the game, they just played like they didn’t have a charge.

Maybe they were zapped by a team night at the movies the evening before, with oil from movie popcorn butter collecting in lower extremity joints due to gravitational pull—adding lubrication to slide the Wizards in to a faint, 24-hour slumber. Maybe the Wiz Kids were simply filled with too much anticipation over playing on Kevin Seraphin’s 25th birthday on Sunday, which also happened to be Larry Bird’s birthday. Even David Aldridge wondered what local Boston dining and entertainment the Wizards got into on Saturday night. Whatever it was, the Wizards failed miserably to counter the stink of a Washington Redskins home shutout versus the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, denying loyal D.C.-area sports fans any sort of solace.

The Celtics started the first quarter with a 16-4 run and started the third quarter with a 10-2 run. In both instances, the Cs had a later run to answer the Wizards after they appeared to ground themselves. Washington finally said, ‘Oh, right … basketball’ in the fourth with a quarter-opening 17-5 run, mostly thanks to the forgettable nature of Rasual Butler (at least according to opposing defenses, one imagines). There was also a 10-0 Wizards run midway through the fourth, but attempts to be the hero by John Wall could not be fully realized—he was still in his PJs and slippers, even if Wall did almost match Rajon Rondo’s triple-double effort with a 17-14-8 stat line of his own. Boston, however, scored subsequently after five of Wall’s six turnovers on the day, and it would have been six had Wall not run back on defense to secure a block. Wall ended his Sunday like this, but a jump-to-pass turnover off the rim epitomized it.

Even Tommy Heinsohn (the Larry Michael of the Celtics, except not) would be shocked if the Wizards lost to Boston tonight. Maybe. (Vegas favors Washington by 8.5 points.) Not taking away from the Celtics, as I agree with the Post’s Michael Lee in that Boston’s record (now 7-11) is deceptive because they’ve often blown leads toward the end of games, but this is how things go, right? It’s a template, you see—look out for the team that just got blown out, especially if they are playing the same team that just blew them out. Tonight’s game will, nonetheless, happen anyway. #Sports.

Sunday was Washington’s second-worst shooting game of the season (36.6%) after the blowout loss against the Raptors in Toronto (36.1%) on Nov. 7—my wedding night, thanks guys. Another sign of malaise: the Wizards only ended 4.9 percent of Boston’s possessions by stealing the ball, the second-lowest percentage on the year (after a blowout loss versus the Hawks at home, 2.1%). Normally, the Wizards are ninth in the NBA in steals per 48 minutes (pace adjusted).

Tonight is a game of “Can’ts”—the Wizards can’t possibly shoot the ball worse, they can’t move the ball any worse, and ringleader John Wall simply can’t lose sight of every single passing lane before and after he jumps in the air.

Joining TAI today to discuss tonight’s opponent, the Boston Celtics once again, is Brian Robb (@CelticsHub), editor-in-chief of the ESPN TrueHoop blog Celtics Hub. Let’s pinch off leaves from the clover…

Teams: Wizards vs Celtics
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WTEM-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards favored by 8.5 points.

Q #1: Rondo was his usual masterful self on Sunday with a triple-double, but his scoring was as bad as it’s ever been—he bricked a very close runner late and went 5-for-17 on FGs.

Considering his surroundings (teammates), should he look for his own offense more? Has he shown signs of trying to improve? (And I ask in the sense that Wall took a ton of elbow jumpers off screens when the Wizards were bad and finally got decent at them.)

@celticshub: Here’s the thing with Rondo right now: he’s not shooting well, but the threat of him taking those shots is better for the Celtics offense than him passing them up altogether. He had several games recently where he only took 5-to-10 shots total for the game and that kills the spacing in the Celtics offense, since defenses lay off him, knowing he’s not going to shoot. He needs to be a threat and in the past couple games, he’s made it a priority to do so (despite the ugly percentages).

Q #2: Lineup numbers convey that Tyler Zeller is better with the rest of the current starters than Kelly Olynyk, which I guess is why Zeller has started the last five games. Who has the brighter future?

@celticshub: Olynyk has the higher ceiling for sure, based on his versatile offensive game, but Zeller is a great fit right now on this team because of his hard rolls to the hoop on pick-and-rolls. Rajon Rondo has had very few big men in his career who are mobile and have great hands, and he’s made Zeller look like an offensive All-Star some nights with his feeds in traffic to setup easy buckets. Olynyk probably still has a brighter future, but I might change my mind about that if Zeller can keep this up.

Q #3: Say that in some wild scenario the Celtics are able to sign Kevin Love away from Cleveland.

Assuming that keeps Rondo around, can those two form a contending core with Green, Bradley and Sullinger (and a strong veteran bench)? If not Love, what move keeps Rondo happy in Boston?

@celticshub: Nope, that’s definitely not a championship core. You are going to need a rim protector for sure (and other strong defenders) to make up for the iffy defense you’d be getting from Rondo and Love on a nightly basis. As for keeping Rondo in Boston, I think if this team shows some progress this year in the win column and the youngsters continue to develop, as long as they get another solid free agent to come, he’ll stay (assuming Boston pays up to what he can get on open market). Rondo likes the city, he saw what Pierce became to this region, and I think he wants to follow in those footsteps and help lead Boston back to the promise land.

Q #4: It’s real early and he’s been coming back from an ankle injury, but what have you seen out of Marcus Smart so far?

(He had some struggles guarding Wall on Sunday.)

@celticshub: Yea, he’s still not close to being right. Brad Stevens didn’t even play him Friday night (he returned Wednesday) since he’s still not comfortable. To ball pressure guards like Wall effectively, you need to be at the top of your game and Smart isn’t there yet. He’s been pretty awful on the offensive end this season, so until he gets fully healthy, he won’t be seeing many minutes in the next few games.


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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.