After two straight losses, the Boston Celtics (23-24, 21-24-2 ATS) take on the Washington Wizards (23-23, 19-26-1 ATS) on Sunday night. The Celtics are looking to bounce back after an ugly loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, while the Wizards are hoping to snap a two-game losing streak of their own.
According to the online sports book Betonline.ag, the Boston Celtics are 1.5-point favorites:
- Point Spread: Boston Celtics -1.5
- Over-Under: 216.5 points
- Money line: Boston Celtics -127, Washington Wizards +107
Both Marcus Smart and Aaron Nesmith have been upgraded to available ahead of tonight’s game. Smart has missed the last six games due to H&S protocols and reconditioning, while Nesmith missed two games with a sprained ankle.
Meanwhile, Washington doesn’t have anyone listed on their injury report. Rui Hachimura is back, Thomas Bryant is back, and the Wizards have a fully healthy roster.
G: Marcus Smart
G: Jaylen Brown
F: Jayson Tatum
F: Al Horford
C: Robert Williams
Portland Trail Blazers
G: Spender Dinwiddie
G: Bradley Beal
F: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
F: Kyle Kuzma
C: Daniel Gafford
Boston Celtics Overview
The Celtics’ loss to the Trail Blazers was one of the worst of the season. It feels as though that can be said after every loss, but this one was particularly bad. Boston blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter and allowed the Blazers to go on a 20-5 run to end the game. They didn’t even score a field goal in the final 7:19 of the game, with their only five points coming on free throws.
Jayson Tatum has been a big factor in this lackluster offense, as he can’t get anything to fall right now. The two-time All-Star has missed his last 20 threes. He hasn’t nailed a shot from behind the arc since the win over the Chicago Bulls. The Celtics won’t win many games with him shooting that poorly. Obviously, if the shot is open, he should take it, but there are also some exceptions to that. Tatum needs to make the right play at all times, not just try and shoot his way out of a slump.
With Smart and Nesmith back, the Celtics should have a fully healthy roster tonight. It’s been a while since that’s been the case, so it’ll be interesting to see how the team plays with everyone available. Ime Udoka will most likely return to the normal starting lineup, but who knows? Maybe we’ll see some younger guys get some run. Change is very clearly needed, so it’s up to Udoka, the players, and Brad Stevens to ignite that change.
Washington Wizards Overview
After their hot start to the season, the Wizards went ice cold for a while. They’ve since leveled out and now sit at 23-23, good for ninth in the Eastern Conference. Washington is an even 5-5 in their last ten games. Losing some close battles along the way. It’s looking like they’re going to be a play-in team at the end of the season.
It’s been two players leading the charge for the Wizards in 2022 – Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma. In January, Beal is averaging 24.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 8.3 assists while shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from deep. Meanwhile, Kuzma is putting up 23.2 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 3.2 assists while shooting 51.8 percent from the field and 32.0 percent from three-point range in January.
While that’s all well and good, Beal might not be around for long. It was recently rumored that he’s not going to sign an extension with the Wizards. Yet, Washington is adamant on keeping him past the deadline. He’s basically letting them know that he’s considering leaving, yet they’re keeping him around anyways. An interesting move, but who knows, maybe he’ll stick around regardless of the extension.
Make shots. Just make shots. Tatum needs to hit his threes. The Celtics generate a ton of open looks, but they just haven’t been falling in the last couple of games. If Tatum was shooting his normal percentages from the field and from deep, this season would probably look a lot different. But he’s not. And it doesn’t. So now the C’s just need to worry about making some shots.
All-around defense needs to be prioritized. As mentioned, Beal and Kuzma have carried the load in January, but plenty of other players have played well. Spencer Dinwiddie, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are all averaging in the double-digits, too. Washington presents a fairly well-rounded attack, so the Celtics have to keep up the defensive pressure everywhere.
Lastly, Boston needs to keep the ball moving. When they get stuck playing isolation basketball, things go south very quickly. If they want to take down the Wizards, that ball needs to stay zipping around. The C’s aren’t going to win many games where they play isolation-heavy basketball.
It’s tough to predict the outcome of games anymore. The Celtics haven’t been consistent all year, so it’s impossible to know what will happen on a night-to-night basis. However, with Smart back, one would assume they’d get back on track a bit. Right?
Boston Celtics 103, Washington Wizards 98
TIP-OFF: 3:30 p.m. @ Capital One Arena
RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub
TV: NBC Sports Boston