By: Emily Musella
Celtics host Wizards in Sunday night NBA action
The Boston Celtics take on the Washington Wizards tonight at the Garden. The Celtics snapped their 3-game losing streak with a big win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night. Meanwhile, the Wizards are coming off another W last night over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Can the Boston team defend their home-court, or will the Wizards put together some magic for the upset? You know what time it is, the breakdown shakedown!
Odds: BOS -5.5, WAS +5.5
Tip-off: February 28th, 7:00 p.m. EST, TD Garden
The Wizards are headed to Boston territory tonight on a win streak and ready to take on the recently inconsistent Celtics squad. In their last matchup against the C’s, the Wizards claimed the W with a final score of 104-91. Bradley Beal was the top scorer in that game with 35 points. Though the Washington team has won 7 of their last 8 games, they remain 12th in the Eastern Conference standings.
Offensively, the Wizards heavily rely on Bradley Beal as he averages nearly 33 points per game this season. Right behind Beal though is Russell Westbrook who racks up almost 20 points per game. The Wizards have climbed up the total scoring category this season as they are 7th best in the league with 115 points per game. Their recent downfall though is their 3-pt shooting which is 28th best in the league. In their last meeting with the C’s, the Wizards shot an abysmal 23% from 3-pt range. That will need to change if they can not drive to the bucket successfully tonight.
Defensively, the Wizards held Tatum in check last time as the All-Star player posted only 6 points. However, their biggest duo problem was Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker who combined for 50 points. I think the X-factor the Wizards will have to watch out for is the recent success of Robert Williams III who is quietly getting more court-time and is growing exceptionally well as a player. As for the Wizards defense overall, they are 29th with total points given up, 23rd for FG success, and an even worse 25th defending the 3-pt game.
The Celtics finally got back in the win column with a clutch performance by Kemba Walker Friday night against the Indiana Pacers. Walker posted a season-high 32 points. Other contributions included Daniel Theis who racked up 17 points, and the Celtics bench came out with a bang for a combined 39 points, beating their season average of 27 points. Could the C’s finally be back in elite form with a complete squad paving the way?
Offensively, the Celtics needed help against the Pacers as Tatum and Brown combined for only 24 points. The biggest struggle against the Wizards last time was the shots simply not dropping. They were 32-90 from the FG range and 9-35 from the 3-pt range. This time around, I would expect the big three of Tatum, Brown, and Walker to have a more balanced approach, alongside the bench contributions trending upward again. The C’s will need to start uptempo and ready for the Wizards to keep them on their heels. The Celtics best weaponry is to mix up the shots and keep the Wizards guessing where the star Boston players will take their shot from.
Defensively, the game plan is simple for Brad Stevens, containing Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook. The duo can absolutely destroy opposing teams when they are on the court together. However, aside from the obvious duo, the X-factor in this matchup could be the Wizards best 3-pt shooter in Garrison Matthews with 42.4% success. The 3rd quarter seemed to be the struggling point for the C’s last time as the Wizards posted 34 points compared to their 24. Also, the Wizards are 5th best at scoring in the league in the 3rd quarter.
ANALYSIS AND BEST BETS
I believe we will see a shootout between Jayson Tatum and Bradley Beal this time around. Tatum is due for a big game after posting 9 and 13 points in his last two games. Meanwhile, Beal is simply consistent and leads his team nearly every game in scoring.
My first best bet is for the UNDER to hit in this game. Though hot shooters like Tatum, Brown, and Beal will likely post high numbers, I do not see the final score being over a combined 232 points. In their last two head-to-head matchups, the final scores were 104-91 and 116-107. I anticipate a lower scoring game tonight.
My second best bet is for Russell Westbrook to go UNDER 22.5 points tonight. Westbrook averages 20 points per game and I honestly see him having more success with assists tonight than points. Also, in his last two outings against the Celtics Westbrook was held to 13 points and 12 points. I anticipate Westbrook to have a similar number tonight against the Boston team.