#711 Boston Celticsvs.#712 Washington Wizards
Written by Chris Kubala
Boston Celtics (7-4 SU, 7-4 ATS, 7-4 O/U) vs. Washington Wizards (6-5 SU, 5-6 ATS, 7-3-1 O/U)
NBA: Friday, May 12, 2017, Verizon Center, Washington, D.C., 8 pm ET
Line: Washington -5; Over/Under: 216.5
It’s Game 6 of an Eastern Conference semifinals series coming to you from the nation’s capital. The top-seeded Boston Celtics look to become the first team to win on the road in the series as they visit the fourth-seeded Washington Wizards Friday evening. Boston regained the series edge by rolling to a 123-101 win at home in Game 5 Wednesday. The Celtics hold a 187-111 advantage in the all-time regular season series but the teams split four meetings this season. Boston won two of the three previous playoff series and holds a 12-8 edge in playoff victories.
Boston got off to a hot start in this one after starting slowly in each of the first four games. That change of pace caught the Wizards off guard and gave the Celtics the upper hand in the series. Boston, who trailed by double digits after the opening quarter in each of their first two home games in the series before rallying, led 33-21 after the first and never looked back. The Celtics shot a hot 52.9 percent from the floor and buried 16 of their 33 three point attempts in the game. Boston was led by Avery Bradley, who scored 29 points, including a career-high 25 points in the first half to get the Celtics rolling.
The Celtics come into this contest 6th in the playoffs in scoring offense with 107.8 points per game. Boston is tied for 12th in the league in rebounding with 39.1 boards per game but stand 1st with 27.5 assists per contest. Boston is above average on the defensive end: they currently stand 8th in scoring defense, allowing 104.3 points per game. Isaiah Thomas leads the Celtics with 24.9 points plus 5.9 assists per game. Jae Crowder chips in 13.5 points plus six boards a contest. Avery Bradley puts up 15.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists a night. Al Horford has averaged 15.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. Marcus Smart chips in 8.2 points, five rebounds and 4.7 assists per contest. Tyler Zeller, Jaylen Brown, Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Terry Rozier and Gerald Green are key pieces in the rotation. The Celtics currently are 6th in the postseason in field goal percentage as they shoot 46.5 percent from the floor as a team. Boston is 2nd in three pointers per game with 13.5 while the team is 6th in three point percentage as they hit 37.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Washington didn’t have the same jump they had in Games 1 and 2 in Boston. When the Celtics landed the first heavy blows of the game, the Wizards didn’t have an answer or counterpunch and it proved to be costly. Washington trailed by 12 after the first quarter and 16 at the half: things were pretty much decided by that point. The Wizards struggled shooting the ball as they hit only 38.5 percent from the field, including a 7 of 29 showing from the perimeter. The rough shooting, coupled with Boston’s hot shooting, doomed Washington in this one. John Wall led the Wizards with 21 points but he finished with only four assists.
The Wizards are 4th in the league in scoring offense with 109.8 points per game. Washington is 8th in the league on the glass with 42.7 boards per game. The Wizards stand 3rd with 23.5 assists per game. Washington is 13th in the league in postseason scoring defense as they allow 109 points per game in the postseason. John Wall is leading the team with 28.1 points, 10.5 assists and two steals per game. Bradley Beal averages 22.9 points a game while Otto Porter Jr. (12.5 points, 6.6 boards) is developing into what the Wizards hoped for when they drafted him. Markieff Morris (11.2 points, 5.6 rebounds) and Marcin Gortat (8.6 points, 11 rebounds, 1.64 blocks) are other Washington players that are looked to as contributors. Bojan Bogdanovic (9.6 points, 4.6 rebounds), Brandon Jennings and Kelly Oubre Jr. are looked at to contribute off the pine. Washington is 7th in field goal percentage as the team shoots a collective 46 percent from the floor. The Wizards are 11th in the league with 8.5 triples a night while ranking 13th in three point shooting. Washington hits a meager 32.3 percent of their attempts from downtown.
We have yet to see a road team pick up a win in this series, whether it be because of the home crowd inspiring the hosts, the road team struggling, or just home court advantage living up to its name. None of the games have been close with all five games decided by double figures: that includes Boston’s Game 2 overtime victory. With that in mind, it’s tough to think that things will be any different in this one. Boston battles but Washington pushes this one to a winner take all Game 7 as Wall wills them to victory.
The question as to whether a road team can win a game in this series remains unanswered as we’ve seen the hosts win by double figures in all five games. That bodes well for Washington, who won convincingly in both their games at the Verizon Center. The Wizards need a big game from both Beal and Wall but it will take more than that. Someone from the frontcourt group has to step up and contribute a big game. Neutralizing Horford is as important for the Wizards as curtailing Thomas on the offensive end. If Bradley has another big game as he did in Game 5, the Wizards could be in serious trouble.
The over is 8-1 in the Celtics last 9 vs. NBA Southeast Division opponents, 4-1 in their last five overall, 4-1 in their last five against Eastern Conference foes, 4-1 in their last five conference semifinal games and 4-1 in their last five against teams with a winning record. Washington has seen the over go 7-1 in their last eight Friday games, 5-1 in their last six overall, 5-1 in their last six against Eastern Conference foes and 4-1 in their last five against Atlantic Division foes. There’s been no shortage of points in this series: look for this to go over the total as well.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.