WASHINGTON WIZARDS (23-15)
at BOSTON CELTICS (19-18)
Tip-off: Wednesday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Boston -5.5, Total: 216.5
Washington heads to Boston to take on a Celtics team that may still be without Avery Bradley.
The Washington Wizards won their third straight game on Tuesday night, taking down division rival Chicago at home, 101-99 (CHI +11.5). The win improved their record to 19-18 (19-18 ATS), good for second place in the Southeast Division and a three-way tie for the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, only one game ahead of the ninth-place Bulls. Their previous two wins came at Milwaukee on Sunday (107-101, PK) and at home against the Wolves on Friday (112-105, WAS -5). Washington will now play the second leg of a back-to-back on the road at Boston on Wednesday against a Celtics team that lost 114-106 on Tuesday at home to the Raptors (TOR -5). It broke a four-game winning streak for Boston, who, at 23-15 (20-16-2 ATS) are third place in the Eastern Conference, one game ahead of the Hawks. The Celtics had a nine-point lead at halftime and a four-point lead entering the fourth quarter against Toronto, but were outscored 34-22 in the final frame to surrender the lead. Over the last five seasons, teams that have allowed 105 points in three straight games (BOS) are 69-32 ATS versus opponents coming off of wins of six points or fewer. In the same time frame, games featuring a team that has allowed 100 points in five straight games (BOS) and two teams with scoring differentials between -3 and +3 are 80-42 Under against the total. Boston SG Avery Bradley is questionable for Tuesday night’s game with an Achilles injury, and C Tyler Zeller is also questionable with an illness.
The Wizards rank right in the middle of the league in offensive efficiency—15th, to be exact, in averaging 107.9 points per 100 possessions. They’re 19th in defensive efficiency rating at 108.4 points allowed per 100 possessions. They play a faster pace than most teams, ranking 13th at 96.8 possessions per 48 minutes. This year’s Washington squad is once again led by franchise player PG John Wall (23.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 10.3 APG, 2.2 SPG). He was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month in December, averaging 24.5 points per game, 10.7 assists per game and 2.7 steals per game. He has been hot in the new year, too: He had a season-high 18 assists against Minnesota last Friday and had 26 points and 14 assists against the Bulls on Tuesday. In the latter game, he stuck a jumper with five seconds left to give the Wizards the win. Wall has benefitted greatly this season in finally having a suitable sidekick, SF Bradley Beal (22.1 PPG, 3.5 APG). It’s the role he was drafted to fill, but he has struggled with injury throughout his career. He’s been especially hot in January, scoring 23.8 points per game on 47.8% shooting. To a lesser degree, the Wiz have seen another former high draft pick step up this season in SF Otto Porter (14.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG). He’s averaging career highs in points, rebounds and steals, and he is 14th in the NBA in shooting percentage (53.6%)—first among non-center/power forwards. PF Markieff Morris (13.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.2 SPG) and C Marcin Gortat (11.5 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 1.1 BPG) anchor the team inside.
The Celtics have a top-ten offense according to offensive efficiency rating, as they’re seventh at 110.2 points scored per 100 possessions. Known for having several strong defenders in their lineup, they are nonetheless only 20th in the league with a defensive efficiency rating of 108.8 points allowed per 100 possessions. They’re 17th with a pace of 96 possessions per 48 minutes. PG Isaiah Thomas (27.9 PPG, 6.1 APG) has improved every year he’s been in the league, but he has truly taken it to another level this season. He is sixth in the league in scoring, and is tied with LeBron James for the ninth-best PER in the NBA at 26.81—ahead of Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan and Stephen Curry, to name a few. He has scored at least 20 points in 22 straight games, and has 38- and 52-point performances among his last five. The Celtics’ second-leading scorer this year is Bradley (18.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.3 SPG), whose defensive prowess was missed on Monday as DeRozan torched the C’s for 41 points. He is third among league shooting guards in rebounding and shooting a career-best 41.7% from three. Added via free agency this past offseason, C Al Horford (15.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.9 BPG) does all the little things for the team. He only has 22 total points on 8-of-29 shooting in his past two games. SF Jae Crowder (12.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.1 SPG) has struggled to produce offensively like he did in his breakout 2016 season, but continues to play an important role on both ends of the floor. PG Marcus Smart (10.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.4 SPG) is a beast on defense and continues to develop as an offensive player.