#716 Boston Celticsvs.#715 Washington Wizards
Written by Chris Kubala
Washington Wizards (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS, 7-4-1 O/U) vs. Boston Celtics (7-5 SU, 8-4 ATS, 7-5 O/U)
NBA: Monday, May 15, 2017, TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, 8 pm ET
Line: Boston -4.5; Over/Under: 210
It’s the continuation of the Eastern Conference Semifinals up in Beantown as a pair of division winners look to come up with a victory. The fourth-seeded Washington Wizards meet the top-seeded Boston Celtics in Game 7 Monday night. The winner advances to the Eastern Conference Finals and a matchup with the defending champion Cavaliers. The loser goes home bitter and disappointed. Washington forced this do or die contest with a 92-91 Game 6 win Friday night at home. 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 12-9 edge in playoff victories.
Washington managed to come up with enough clutch plays to escape with a narrow victory at home in Game 6. The Wizards now have to win in Boston to reach the conference finals for the first time since the 1978-79 season. John Wall drilled the game winning three with 3.5 seconds to play and the Wizards held on to secure the victory in a much more defensive struggle than most had anticipated given the series’ first five games. Washington shot 43 percent from the floor despite going 5 of 24 from beyond the arc. The Wizards also hit only 13 of 21 free throw attempts but won the rebounding battle 46-37. Bradley Beal led Washington with 33 points while Wall kicked in 26 points and eight assists.
The Wizards are 4th in the league in scoring offense with 108.3 points per game. Washington is 7th in the league on the glass with 43 boards per game. The Wizards stand 3rd with 23.2 assists per game. Washington is 13th in the league in postseason scoring defense as they allow 108.3 points per game in the postseason. John Wall is leading the team with 27.9 points, 10.3 assists and 1.83 steals per game. Bradley Beal averages 23.8 points a game while Otto Porter Jr. (11.5 points, 6.7 boards) is developing into what the Wizards hoped for when they drafted him. Markieff Morris (11.6 points, 6.1 rebounds) and Marcin Gortat (8.3 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.58 blocks) are other Washington players that are looked to as contributors. Bojan Bogdanovic (9.2 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 45.8 percent from the floor. The Wizards are tied for 12th in the league with 8.3 triples a night while ranking 13th in three point shooting. Washington hits a meager 31.4 percent of their attempts from downtown.
Boston had their chances in a defensive struggle but saw Wall hit the critical three in the dying seconds. With a chance to win the game and the series, Isaiah Thomas, who was rushed, misfired on a potential game winning shot at the buzzer. The Celtics have only themselves to blame for losing the game: they shot 40.5 percent from the floor and clanked 23 of 34 three point attempts in the contest. In addition, Boston lost the rebounding battle 46-37 and got to the free throw line only 18 times, converting 16. Avery Bradley and Thomas each had 27 points to lead the Celtics in the defeat. Boston’s bench failed to contribute: the reserves shot a collective 2 of 15 from the floor, including 0 for 8 from beyond the arc, and combined for five points in 71 minutes of action.
The Celtics come into this contest 7th in the playoffs in scoring offense with 106.4 points per game. Boston is 13th in the league in rebounding with 38.9 boards per game but stand 2nd with 27.3 assists per contest. Boston is above average on the defensive end: they currently stand tied for 7th in scoring defense, allowing 103.3 points per game. Isaiah Thomas leads the Celtics with 25.1 points plus six assists per game. Jae Crowder chips in 13.2 points plus 6.1 boards a contest. Avery Bradley puts up 16.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists a night. Al Horford has averaged 16.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. Marcus Smart chips in 7.6 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 percent from the floor as a team. Boston is 2nd in three pointers per game with 13.3 while the team is 6th in three point percentage as they hit 37 percent from beyond the arc.
Washington clawed their way to a win in Game 6 but they have an uphill climb in Game 7. The Wizards have struggled on the road this season: the team is 20-27 counting the playoffs as the visiting team. Boston, on the flip side, has recorded a 34-13 home mark when the playoffs are factored in. Both teams need to get more production from their frontcourt groups: look for the Celtics to come up with a tough victory to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
There are two schools of thought to look at here: one is that the Wizards have the momentum after winning Game 6 at home in the dying seconds to force this one. The flip side is that the Celtics, according to the league, were shorted time after Wall’s three pointer, which could have changed the fortunes of the game. The other school of thought is that home court carries the day. That’s been the case throughout the series and even going back to the regular season: the home team has won all 10 games between the teams this season. Making matters worse, Washington’s last win at the TD Garden came on April 16, 2014. That was an eternity ago in the NBA.
The over is 4-0 in the Wizards last 4 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600, 5-2 in their last 7 overall, 5-2 in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600 and 5-2 in their last seven against Eastern Conference foes. Boston has seen the over go 6-0-1 in their last 7 home games, 6-1 in their last 7 games following a straight up loss and 8-2 in their last 10 against Southeast Division foes. We’ve seen a lot of points in this series: look for that to continue here with the fate of both teams’ seasons hanging in the balance.
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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.