Can the Washington Wizards or Boston Celtics win a game on each others’ home court? The answer to that question will be key in the two teams’ Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Boston won by at least 10 points in both of its home games, then Washington came home and got two wins by at least 19 points. In today’s Game 5, Boston will aim to continue this trend on its home floor (8pm ET Wednesday on TNT).
Game 4 was decided by a 26-0 run by the Wizards in the third quarter that turned a five-point deficit into a 21-point lead. Boston could not stop turning the ball over and Washington couldn’t stop scoring in transition. Washington cruised to a 19-point victory.
Momentum says the Wizards will win Game 5, but Washington’s struggles away from the road and the Celtics’ strength at home says Boston will win the contest. Let’s ask some questions that will help determine the game’s outcome. Then this preview will make its betting predictions and picks to hopefully beat the USA betting firms.
Will the Change of Location Cure Boston’s Turnover Problems?
The Celtics committed 36 turnovers in their two games in Boston. That’s an average of 18 per game, way up from the team’s average of 13.3 per game during the regular season.
Turnover problems are an especially major concern when the other team has John Wall, along with capable transition finishers and shooters, on the floor. Wall is a blur in the open court and always seems to make the right decision, whether it’s finding a teammate with a fancy dish or cruising in for a layup himself.
Boston committed eight turnovers during the Wizards’ 26-0 third-quarter run in Game 4, and that got Wizards all kinds of easy looks before the Celtics could set up their defense. In the two Washington games, Boston got outscored 39 to 18 in fast-break points.
The Celtics need to work on their transition defense, but cutting down on the risky passes and drives should be their biggest concern.
Can the Wizards Continue to Beat Boston’s Small-Ball Lineups?
Boston likes playing small ball. It has big men who can shoot and plenty of guards and wings who can play up a position or two. The goal of small ball, obviously, is to beat your opponent with speed and shooing, which hopefully doesn’t matter as much as the opponent’s size advantage.
That said, the Wizards’ size was the biggest difference-maker when the Celtics went small in the two Washington games. The Wizards dominated the glass and got all sorts of inside buckets, while defending admirably and keeping the Celtics out of transition.
Can Boston create more chaos on defense and to start make more outside shots when it inevitably goes with its small lineups? The Wizards, moving away from their home court, may have a hard time preventing the Celtics from doing so.
Will Brad Stevens Get Positive Impact From His Fifth Starter?
One of the Celtics’ biggest flaws as a team is that they don’t know what their best lineup is. All year long, they’ve shuffled around their starting unit in search of a good combination. Now that the team is healthy, it’s been mostly Amir Johnson and Gerald Green switching off as the fifth starter. The problem with this inconsistency is that Washington has used the same starting lineup all year, and the group has consistency that Boston lacks.
It’s anybody’s guess who starts next to Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Al Horford on Wednesday. Whoever it is, Celtics head coach needs good production from that player.
Or, if that fifth starter ends up not playing in key stretches later in the game, Boston just needs some fifth guy next to Thomas, Bradley, Crowder and Horford to step up to the challenge during the biggest game of the team’s season.
Our Preview’s Washington Wizards vs. Boston Celtics Game 5 Betting Picks & Predictions
The difference in these teams’ energy levels when they play at home versus when they play on the road is palpable. That shouldn’t be the case in the postseason, when all the games are so important, but it is.
I can’t help but predict the pendulum to swing back to the Celtics, who will play in front of a raucous crowd that isn’t happy about two consecutive losses.
- Boston have a 4.5-point edge with the US online sportsbooks for tonight. This is close to a standard spread for two evenly-matched teams, which I think these squads are. However, these teams are also more dependent on home-court advantage than most others. My prediction is for the Celtics -4.5pts to cover the spread @ best odds of -108 with BetOnline. It is -110 for the same spread with most of the others like 5Dimes and MyBookie.
- The total ranges between 215pts and 216pts. The average total points scored per game so far for the series is 228.3, since both teams are playing pretty quickly and looking to push the pace on turnovers. I would bet on the status quo continuing. Our betting pick is to go over 215pts @ -110 with MyBookie, which is the best value choice at the spread and odds for that selection.
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.