The NBA season is winding down and with playoff positioning on the line, every game counts. The Washington Wizards (42-27) sit just two games back of the Boston Celtics (44-25) for second place in the Eastern Conference, so this Monday night showdown could help determine how the East shakes out come the postseason (7.30pm ET Today).
In 2010 the Washington Wizards drafted John Wall (pictured) with the first overall pick in that year’s draft and ever since the team has been steadily improving. But before Wall, the years were quite lean in DC and wins were hard to come by. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics were continually one of the best teams in the East, even winning the NBA championship in 2008 and reaching the Finals again in 2010.
As the Wizards began to improve, the Celtics seemed to take a step back, going through periods of transition with its top stars retiring or leaving in free agency. But when the 2016-17 season rolled around, it was clear that Boston and Washington were going to be tough teams in the Eastern Conference. As it would turn out, they would turn into great rivals too.
The teams first played this year in early November in a game that the Wizards won pretty handedly. At home at the Verizon Center, Washington played a complete game as Wall put up 19 points and Otto Porter Jr. led the team with his 34 points in 38 minutes, shooting 14-of-19 from the floor. For Boston, their trio of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart all put up 20+, but in the end it wasn’t enough to take down Washington, who are 27-10 at home this year.
On January 11th when the series traveled to Boston, the Celtics, who have a 23-9 home record this season, got their revenge. In that game, Wall shot just 4-of-21 from the field, one of his worst performances this season. Meanwhile, Thomas shot lights out, scoring 38 points in the win.
Less than two weeks later, back at the Verizon Center, the see-saw toppled in favor of the Wizards again. The team infamously wore all black in a matchup that was dubbed “The Funeral Game.” Washington did this to show their disdain for Boston, which has slowly become one of the Wizards’ top rivals. Wall and Bradley Beal, who was the third overall pick in 2012, combined for 58 points in the victory.
It happened somewhat quickly but these two teams really don’t like each other and it has made for a great budding rivalry this season.
This Preview’s Washington Wizards vs Boston Celtics Betting Picks & Predictions
Following that January 11th tilt in Boston, the Wizards have been one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference, going 23-8 in that span and solidifying themselves as a top contender for the impending playoffs. Boston has gone 20-10 in that time and have maintained their spot as the second best team in the conference.
Both of these teams are very good and looking ahead to the conference finals. Either one could end up meeting the Cleveland Cavaliers for a shot to go to the NBA Finals. For Washington, it would be the first time since the 1970s that they even reached that stage of the playoffs let alone the finals. For Boston, it would be what they’ve been working towards since moving on from their own Big Three era.
If the series is to hold to the pattern it has this season, that would mean the Celtics should emerge victorious back home at the TD Garden. However, Boston has a big question mark and that comes in the form of Thomas, who has missed a few games and is listed as a probable to play tonight. Thomas rested in Sunday’s game against the hapless Philadelphia 76ers and the Celtics lost that game. They can’t afford to drop another, especially against a team that is breathing down their neck for that second seed.
If Thomas can’t go, that’s a big blow to Boston’s chances so make sure to check the injury report as close to game time as possible. If he does go however and he plays regular minutes, I’d go with the Celtics to win and even the season series. The way these two teams have played at home all season and especially against each other, points to the Celtics being able to take this one and get one step closer to earning the second seed in this year’s NBA playoffs.
The best American betting sites have been nervous about opening up betting lines too soon, given the doubts about the line-ups. They have no odds at time of writing but here are our picks and betting predictions for this NBA game:
- We expect the spread to favor Boston Celtics by maybe 3.5pts to 5.5pts. In that case we would pick Boston to win and to cover that deficit on the spread.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.