The Boston Celtics (52-23, 40-34-1 ATS) take on the Washington Wizards (33-42, 33-39-3 ATS) tonight in D.C. Boston is rolling once again, dominating their last three after inconsistent showings for the past month. The Wizards have been sliding all of March, sitting at just 4-10 this month and 1-5 in their last six games. Boston is leading the season series 2-0. According to online sports book FanDuel, the Celtics are 11.5-point favorites
Point Spread: Boston Celtics -11
ML: Celtics -560, Wizards +420
Jayson Tatum (hip) will return to the lineup for the Celtics after missing Sunday’s game. Payton Pritchard (heel) has been upgraded to probable as well. Pritchard has been out for the last nine games.
Washington, on the other hand, is limping to the finish line, with Bradley Beal (knee) and Kyle Kuzma (ankle) ruled out yet again. Monte Morris (groin) and Daniel Gafford (foot) are questionable.
Celtics Projected Starters
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Derrick White
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Al Horford
Wizards Projected Starters
PG: Delon Wright
SG: Corey Kispert
SF: Deni Avdija
PF: Kristaps Porzingis
C: Taj Gibson
Boston Celtics Overview
It’s no coincidence that since Robert Williams III has returned, the Celtics have looked like themselves again. Even without playing big minutes, Boston has been looser on both ends of the floor, dismantling the Spurs and Pacers and keeping the red hot Sacramento Kings in check for three easy wins. His presence on defense has been felt, giving the Celtics the ability to easily switch matchups throughout the game. Joe Mazzulla has also highlighted his vertical spacing on offense. Not only does his insane athleticism lead to better shots at the basket, it sucks defenders in and creates more space on the outside. This shows up on the stats sheet, with the team shooting 41.5% from deep with Williams III back compared to 37% in five previous contests. Washington is solid defending the three, so Rob’s ability to draw perimeter defenders inside will be big for Boston’s offensive game plan tonight.
Eventually, his minutes will ramp back up, but it’s unclear if he’ll return to the starting lineup. That’s a testament to just how good Derrick White has been. All season, White has stood out as one of the top Celtics on both ends of the floor. Though he’s comfortable coming off the bench, the team needs him playing as much as possible. As Bobby Manning reported, White paired with Marcus Smart in the starting lineup has led to the C’s outscoring opponents by 13.8 points per 100 possessions. On top of that, the Celtics give up 5.8 fewer points per 100 possessions with White on the floor. His ability to consistently provide offense while taking on tough responsibilities on defense can’t be overstated enough, and he should continue to see as many minutes as Joe Mazzulla can muster.
Washington Wizards Overview
Sitting 3.5 games back of the final play-in spot with a tough seven games left, it’s looking like the Wizards will miss out on the playoffs again. Their young guys will be seeing the floor a lot more down the stretch, and an intriguing one to watch is Corey Kispert. Perhaps the most promising asset the team has, the sharpshooting Kispert is an incredibly efficient scorer and an advanced stats darling. He’s 13th in the league in true shooting percentage — which includes free throws and rewards threes more than twos — and if you take away the paint-dwelling bigs who rarely shoot outside the paint (Gobert, Claxton, etc.) he jumps up to 6th. His only issue has been volume, but with Beal and Kuzma missing the past three games, he’s averaged 18 points on 44.4% from three. The Wizards would love to see what their former first-round pick can do with extended run, and they should try to free him up for many three-point looks tonight.
Another intriguing player to watch, though not exactly a young guy, is Kristaps Porzingis. The Unicorn, though not impacting the game like when he was in New York, has quietly posted a nice bounce back season, with career highs in points-per-game and field goal percentage to pair with 38.2% shooting from deep. Maybe the most important stat is that he’s on track to play the most games he’s ever played in a season, a great sign given his long injury history. Porzingis will be a factor on both ends tonight, and it will be interesting to see if the Wizards keep him in the mix going forward.
With the way both teams are trending, especially Boston, all signs point toward a fourth straight blowout. The Celtics are finally back on track at the right time and handling business against inferior opponents. Expect another big win as they try and close the gap on Milwaukee for the top seed in the East.