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Washington Wizards vs Boston Celtics Preview

Washington Wizards (31-23) vs Boston Celtics (39-16)

When: Thursday , February 8, at 7 p.m.

Where: Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. TV: NBC Sports Washington / Radio: 1500 AM


Wizards: Sheldon Mac (Out, Achilles) , John Wall (Day to Day, Knee)

Celtics: Gordon Hayward (Out, Ankle, Tibia), Shane Larkin (Out, Knee), Marcus Smart (Out, Hand)

Notes -

- Bradley Beal recorded his 10th game this season with 30 points and is now one of 16 players in the league to have at least 10 games with 30+ points. Beal now needs only three more games with 30-or-more points to tie his 13 total games from last season. Beal added seven rebounds and five assists for his third 30-7-5 game of the season.

Games with 30+ pts, 7+ rebs, 5+ asts this season

R. Westbrook 13 D. Cousins 7

G. Antetokounmpo 9 K. Durant 6

L. James 8 Beal/5 Others 3

- The last five games of the series have alternated wins for each team (11/9/16-WAS, 1/11/17-BOS, 1/24/17-WAS, 3/20/17-BOS, 12/25/17, WAS).

The Wizards are 8-1 this season when recording 12-or-more steals in a game and have been one of the leaders in steals since Jan. 27.

NBA STLS/G, Since Jan. 27

Indiana 10.5

Washington 10.2

New Orleans 9.0

Sacramento 8.8

- Washington defeated Boston 111-103 on Christmas Day and look for a season sweep tonight.

- Washington is 10-7 without John Wall this season.

Wizards -

107.4 - points per game

105.6 - points against

46.7 - Field goal %

Celtics -

103.0 - points per game

98.7 - points against

44.8 - field goal %

Keep an eye on:

Kyrie Irving: Irving returned from a quad injury that sidelined him for three games and scored 17 points in a loss to the Toronto Raptors Tuesday. Expect a more aggressive Irving tonight. Irving is leading the Celtics with 24.7 points per game on 48 percent shooting from the field, 40 percent shooting from deep and 88 percent from the stripe. Simply put he is one of the leagues most deadliest scorers. Yet, Irving is playing the best all around basketball of his career, adding 5 assist and 3.6 rebounds a game to the equation. He's the Celtics go to guy and closer so Washington, especially Tomas Satoransky and Tim Frazier, will have to be on their game defensively.

Contain Boston's front line: All Star center Al Horford, second forward Jaylen Brown and rookie forward Jayson Tatum has arguably the most EFFICIENT front line in the NBA. Horford who is vastly underrated, is posting 13.3 points (50% FG/ 43% 3FG/ 73% FT) , 7.8 rebounds and 5.2 assist per game. He's a match-up nightmare for big's across the league due to his versatility. Washington's big's will have to stay locked in on him otherwise he is fully capable of leading Boston to a win.

Jaylen Brown has validated his high selection in the 2016 NBA Draft. Once just seen as an athletic slasher, Brown has built himself into an efficient two way player. Brown is averaging 14.1 points (second on the Celtics), and 5.4 rebounds on 46 percent shooting from the field and 38 percent shooting from deep. While his efficiency from the free throw line is sub-par at this point in his career (59%), he makes up for it being a standout defender. In the first meeting, Otto Porter jr and Kelly Oubre Jr got the better end of the match-up combining for 36 points on 14-23 shooting. Look for Brad Stevens to adjust to help put Brown in a better position to thrive.

Jayson Tatum is a candidate for rookie of the year and has as bright of a future of any rookie right now. Tatum can play the 2,3,4 depending on the line-up at 6'8 which is hell to deal with. Tatum is putting up 13.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and nearly a block and steal per game. However, it's not his production, although impressive, that's caught the eye of opposing teams, it's his level of efficiency in doing so. The versatile forward out of Duke is shooting 48 percent form the field, 43 percent from three point territory and 82 percent from the free throw line., which is insane for a rookie. In the first match-up against the Wizards, he couldn't be stopped, scoring 20 points on 7-9 shooting.

Washington's front line of Marcin Gortat, Otto Porter Jr, Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre combined for 61 points and 28 rebounds winning the match-up with Boston's front line of Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Aron Baynes, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris and Daniel Theis, who combined for 54 points & 27 rebounds, and that was with Mike Scott having an off game. While Kyrie and Brad Beal are fully capable of putting up a lot of points quickly, the game will ultimately come down to which front line plays the best.

Ball Movement/ Defense: must continue. Celtics have the best defense in the NBA, ranking first in total points allowed at 98.7 per game. During Washington's five game win streak without Wall, they averaged 32.2 assist and held opponents to 37.4 percent shooting from the field. In the loss to the Sixers, the Wizards finished with 23 assist and allowed 50 percent shooting. Washington will have to duplicate the same ball movement and defensive intensity they played with during their win streak to take down this Boston team who will no doubt come in motivated to avoid a season sweep to the Wizards. In other words, everybody needs to continue to eat!

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