If you ever thought that home-court advantage wasn’t that big of a deal in the NBA playoffs, the Boston Celtics’ and Washington Wizards’ Eastern Conference semifinals series is providing a heck of a counterexample.
Through five games, the home team has won every contest by an average of 18 points per game. Heading into Game 6 today, Washington needs to continue the trend to avoid elimination (8pm ET Friday on ESPN).
Boston’s role players stole the show in Game 5 to pick up for a lackluster offensive showing from star point guard Isaiah Thomas. The Wizards couldn’t contain a Celtics attack coming from several different players, and Boston ended up triumphing 123-101.
Will the Wizards once again respond with a dominant performance on their home floor? This preview now looks at the crucial elements that will determine the answer to that question, then forecast how the contest will go relative to the betting lines with our predictions and picks.
Does Avery Bradley Have Another Superstar Game in Him?
To be clear, Bradley is not a superstar player. However, he played like one in Game 5, putting up 29 points, six rebounds and three assists with a 74.6 true-shooting percentage in just 30 minutes. His defense was typically stingy.
The question is, where has that production been for Boston during the rest of the series? In the first four games, he averaged just 11.0 points per game on a putrid 41.2 true-shooting percentage.
Now, he has admittedly been struggling with a hip injury for much of the series, but he was still dealing with that during his Game 5 gem of a performance. What changed?
Whatever the cause of Bradley’s excellence on Wednesday was, he needs to channel that again today to defeat the Wizards on their home floor.
Can Washington Play More Aggressively on Defense?
Washington relies quite a bit on its transition game for offense. In Game 4, it dominated that aspect of the game (34 points off turnovers, 25 fast-break points). However, Boston made more shots in Game 5, and the Wizards didn’t play their typically aggressive defense that forces lots of defense. Washington got very few chances to score before Boston was set up on defense.
The result was a measly 12 points off turnovers and 14 fast-break points. Not only did that mean Washington’s offense couldn’t reach its potential, but the Celtics keeping the Wizards in the half court meant Boston could more easily push the pace on Washington. It’s very hard to have much of a fast-break attack when the other team is constantly burning you in transition, but Boston didn’t have that problem on Wednesday.
Look for less laziness on defense and more calculated gambles in the passing and dribbling lanes from the Wizards in Game 6.
Will Boston’s Three-Point Shooting Accuracy Transfer To Washington?
The Celtics have shot quite well from three-point range the entire series. They’ve hit at least 10 threes in all five games, accumulating an overall percentage of 42.1 percent from downtown.
However, Washington has had more success when Boston isn’t quite as accurate from long range. The Wizards’ two home wins saw the Celtics make 12 threes per game on a 36.9 percent success rate, as opposed to Boston making an average of 16 threes per game on 44.4 percent shooting in Celtic wins.
The Celtics will likely face stronger closeouts on their shooters in Game 6. Can they continue to have the right touch on their shots?
Our Betting Preview’s Boston Celtics vs Washington Wizards Game 6 Predictions & Picks
John Wall is the best player in this series, and he’s going to prove it to everybody today. While the hosting Houston Rockets laid an egg at home against the Kawhi Leonard-less San Antonio Spurs in that series on Thursday, Washington is even more affected by their home floor than Houston is. The Celtics also don’t have the same playoff mettle that the Spurs have shown over the past two decades.
Basically, this preview expects the desperate Wizards to, once again, feed off the energy of their crowd and throw a strong punch against the Celtics, who might be looking ahead to Game 7.
- Washington is a five-point favorite with the legal USA sportsbooks. Every home team easily covered the spread thus far in the series and I expect that streak to continue. The best option at the odds is to pick the Wizards -5pts @ -110 with Bovada or MyBookie.
- Total points of 216 is the over/under you’ll find at most betting outlets for this contest. This has been a high-scoring and fast-paced series. However, I’m predicting that both teams, which don’t have tons of cumulative playoff experience, will have some nervousness in their biggest game of the series that will manifest itself in poor shooting. Bet the under 216pts @ best odds of -105 only with Bovada Sportsbook.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.