Jan 22, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Boston Celtics center Jared Sullinger (7) dribbles as Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (4) defends during the second half at Verizon Center. The Celtics defeated the Wizards 113 - 111. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics vs. Wizards preview: Game Time, Key Match Up, Notes and Prediction

After failing to clinch a playoff spot against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Washington Wizards will return home tonight and will have a chance to redeem themselves versus the lowly Boston Celtics. The game will tip off at 7:00 PM from the Verizon Center.

Key Match Up:

It’s no secret that this NBA season has been riddled with injuries and John Wall hasn’t been able to match up against some of the top point guards in the league for that reason. Rajon Rondo was sidelined for a long period of time with a torn ACL and he wasn’t able to play against the Wizards in their prior meeting, but he’s back tonight and John Wall will definitely have to bring his ‘A’ game. Wall is coming off one of his most disappointing games of the season against Charlotte, scoring just 10 points on 16 shot attempts in a game that could’ve clinched a playoff berth for the Wizards.

Wall and Rondo are similar in style, as they both look to create for their teammates first rather than shoot the ball themselves. Both guards pride themselves on the defensive end of the floor and their match ups in the past have reflected that. Rondo is averaging over 12 points and nearly 12 assists per game in the last five contests and it appears as if he’s back to his All-Star form. Wall has usually stepped up against marquee opponents and he has to do the same tonight. It’s nearly impossible to stop Rondo from having a good game, because even if his shot isn’t falling he still distributes the ball and contributes on the defensive end. Wall can’t allow Rondo to penetrate to the basket, which would force the big men to help, allowing Rondo to get open looks for his teammates. Although his jump shot has improved, I’m sure Wall will live with any shot Rondo makes from the outside, and the same could probably be said for Rondo. Nevertheless, I’m certainly excited for the match up.

Notes:

  • Avery Bradley hurt his achilles on Monday, but he’s expected to play tonight in Washington.
  • Jeff Green is averaging over 26 points against the Wizards this season. Trevor Ariza has to do a better job of containing him.
  • Jared Sullinger has also had his way against the Wizards this season, putting up 18 points and 11 rebounds in his first two games against Washington.
  • Boston has the third worst offensive rating in the NBA.

Prediction:

Washington can’t afford to lose to lottery bound teams at home, especially at this point in the season. They’re fighting to keep the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference and a loss to the Celtics would definitely hinder their chances.

John Wall has to play better when he’s struggling to make shots, and although I wouldn’t expect him to struggle like he did against Charlotte, Rajon Rondo has been a top tier defender for quite some time and he’ll give him some trouble. Bradley Beal played well against Charlotte, rarely settling for the mid-range jump shot, and he has to continue that tonight.

Besides that, Washington’s bigs can’t allow Boston to control the offensive glass and Trevor Ariza has to contain Jeff Green.

With all that said, I think the Wizards will get the win tonight. They’re just one win away from securing a spot in the playoffs and I think they’ll be ready to get the win at home.

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