The 39-16 Boston Celtics and the 31-23 Washington Wizards will continue their rivalry in Washington D.C. today (8 p.m. ET Thursday on TNT).
The two Eastern Conference foes have a history of intense battles between each other. Their conflict came to a head in last spring’s seven-game playoff series in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, which Boston won.
However, Washington won the first matchup in the 2017-18 season series at Christmas by a score of 111-103. Today’s matchup will feature both teams without some key members of the backcourt, including John Wall for the Wizards and Marcus Smart of the Celtics.
Both teams were playing very well before big road losses on Tuesday. Which team will rebound with a win here? Let’s break it down, analyze the elements of this game and try to hit the USA online oddsmakers with our final picks and betting predictions.
Will Wizards Prioritize Ball Movement Again?
Since John Wall injured his knee against the Thunder two weeks ago, these are the Wizards’ assist totals in each game: 40, 27, 30, 35, 29 and 23. Washington has been whipping the ball around the perimeter very well without its ball-dominant point guard.
Not surprisingly, the one loss in that stretch was the final game where the Wizards totaled just 23 assists. The Philadelphia 76ers held the Wizards to 102 points despite it being a very fast-paced game.
Washington doesn’t have the individual talent to beat the Celtics by going one-on-one on offense. The Celtics have athletic, versatile defenders who will shut down those type of attempts, so the Wizards need to move the ball.
Which Struggling Bench Will Get Most Reserves to Step Up?
Both the Celtics and Wizards, with their current injury situations, are teams with good starting lineups and below-average benches. Injuries to Marcus Smart and Shane Larkin for the Celtics and John Wall for the Wizards have forced both coaches to shuffle around their rotations.
That doesn’t mean the benches don’t have solid players. Terry Rozier and Daniel Theis have been really good for the Celtics as of late with their play on both offense on defense, while Kelly Oubre, Mike Scott and Ian Mahinmi can offer the occasional lift to the Wizards.
Both sets of reserves are underachieving right now, though. Can one team get better production from its bench? The Wizards’ home-court advantage could be a factor in this battle and that might prove an influence on our concluding Celtics vs Wizards predictions.
Will Kyrie Irving’s Quad Injury Impact Him Against a Tough Defender?
We know that Irving will be on a minutes restriction, as he was against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. His quad injury took him out for the three games prior to the Raptors game.
Against Toronto, Kyrie was quite good, in spite of the Celtics’ blowout loss. He scored 17 points and dished out three assists with no turnovers in 22 minutes of action. This should be a positive sign that his injury didn’t affect his production too much.
However, he will get a different challenge today against Tomas Satoransky, the Wizards’ replacement point guard for John Wall. Satoransky, at 6’7”, is going to use his tremendous length and defensive fortitude to attempt to bother Irving. The Celtics’ All-Star point guard will certainly be tested. Despite playing fewer minutes than usual, can Irving rise to the challenge?
Our Preview’s Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards Betting Picks & Predictions
Both teams are coming off significant losses against Eastern Conference rivals and will be eager to get back in the winning column.
However, Washington’s home-court advantage (which is always strong) and slightly less significant injury situations will be a help to the Wizards here. Having Irving on a minutes restriction, as well as Marcus Smart and Shane Larkin out, is a major blow to Boston’s guard and wing depth. Meanwhile, the Wall injury hasn’t fazed the Wizards much overall.
- At home, Washington is favored by a slim 1.5-point margin with the sportsbooks. Both teams have been playing really well in the last couple weeks, but the Wizards’ performances have been more impressive. Our first betting prediction is to bet on Washington -1.5pts on the spread @ -115 with Bovada, Bookmaker or BetOnline. It is -2pts with most of the other firms.
- I see this as definitely more of a defensive battle, as Kyrie Irving will have a minutes restriction and a very good defender on him. The Wizards’ solid offense also goes against Boston’s elite defense. Bet on the under 206pts @ -110 with any of 5Dimes, Bovada or Bookmaker.