Opening Statements: Wizards vs Celtics, Game 39 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Celtics, Game 39

Updated: January 16, 2016

Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics - Truth About

Teams: Wizards vs Celtics
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Chinatown, Washington, D.C.
Television: CSN
Radio: WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Celtics fav’d by 1 point.

The Wizards got embarrassed, shellack, bamboozled, and hoodwinked in their first two meetings with the Celtics this season, both contests taking place in Boston. The combined margin in two victories for Brad Stevens’ team: 53 points. And Randy Wittman’s Wizards almost matched that margin in total team turnovers: 46.

Tonight’s affair in D.C. expects to be quite different, and both coaches know it.

“We’re in a different place now,” said Wittman before the game. His team won on Friday night in Indiana, their fourth win in a row, behind a starting lineup of John Wall, Garrett Temple, Kelly Oubre, Jared Dudley, and Nene (the first time that five has played together all season). That same lineup—Washington’s best defensive lineup, and not just according to me—will start against the Celtics tonight (UPDATE: #WellActually, Gortat started the game after missing the last two due to an infection in his knee). Kris Humphries and Marcin Gortat—a very weak defensive combination, as history has revealed—started the first two contests versus Boston, alongside Wall, Beal, and Otto Porter. Tonight, the Wizards will be without Beal (resting in back-to-back), as well as Porter, Drew Gooden, and Kris Humphries (all dealing with a variety of injuries), as well as Alan Anderson, still.

Why Wittman says his team is in a different place mostly hinges on turnovers. In 2016 games, the Wizards field a team Turnover Percentage (TOV%) of 14.1, tied for 17th-highest in the NBA. They force opponents into a 17.3 TOV%, third-highest in the NBA. In 2015 games this season, the Wizards’ TOV% was 15.3, 12th-most, and their opponent team TOV% was 16.6 percent, still ranked highly at sixth-most.

“They’re a much a different team than the first two times we played them. They’ve actually really turned people over the last five games, during their win streak,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens, worried about the flip side. “Taking care of the ball is going to be a big deal on our end.”

“Well, we had so many turnovers there, and the offensive rebounds killed us,” Jared Dudley told me before tonight’s game. “We’re really playing so much different basketball now, better basketball. Our roles have changed, even though we’re not as healthy as we want to be. I just feel like our defensive common sense, we’re more aware how we want to play defensively, and I think that our ball pressure is a lot better.”

And on the defensive prowess of last night, and tonight’s starting lineup, Dudley: “I agree. It definitely is,” he said after my suggestion that that squad was the team’s best on D. “With Temp, Kelly, myself, and Nene—how we control the paint—and John, it is. And a lot of those guys are unselfish guys, know their role, don’t do too much—we play within ourselves.”

Dudley went back to studying his iPhone chess game, apparently a pre-game, but ongoing, battle of wits with Kris Humphries over mobile devices.

Getting pawned by the Celtics twice was the easy part—Wizards players should remember that just as they seemed to remember previously getting owned by the Indiana Pacers last night. Proving capable of a counter move this evening will still be a challenge for the ever-adventurous Wizards. Otherwise, its checkmate Celtics.

Other Wizards-Celtics Pre-Game Activities.

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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.