Apr 2, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) dribbles the ball as Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) defends in the first quarter at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Celtics preview: Wizards Look To Secure 6th Seed in NBA Playoffs

After picking up a blowout victory over the LeBron James-less Miami Heat, the Washington Wizards have given themselves another chance to move up in the standings and could secure the 6th spot in the NBA Playoffs with a win over the Boston Celtics tonight. The game will tip off at 8 PM from the TD Garden.

Key Match Up:

Over the past few games, John Wall hasn’t really looked to score the ball much, but he’s made an effort to constantly get his teammates involved. Washington’s three point shooting has picked up recently, mostly due to the fact that Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza are finally beginning to knock down open looks again, but Wall could be credited for getting them those open looks, especially in transition. When the Wizards are hitting shots from the perimeter, they’re capable of beating anybody, but Wall has to remember that Washington also needs help scoring the ball. He hasn’t really taken advantage of being guarded by lesser defenders as of late, often times passing up open looks at the basket to kick the ball out to the perimeter, so he has to begin taking advantage of the driving lanes to shoot the ball.

Like John Wall, Rajon Rondo has had a tendency to be a bit too passive throughout his career. Both players have racked up assists, but neither have really scored the ball much recently. Wall, and Rondo for that matter, have to get better at picking their shots when their teammates are struggling, because when they overpass, they essentially become a non-factor. Wall is best when he’s attacking the rim, getting contact and finishing at the basket. That will in turn open shots for his shooters, which will give him the opportunity to rack up even more assists, but at an even greater efficiency. Both guys have a pass first pass second option going right now, and Wall needs to look to shoot the ball more. It’s not a big issue, but he certainly needs to take advantage more of the open looks he’s getting. There’s not a better time to start doing that than today in Boston.

Notes:

Prediction:

The Wizards have to win tonight and I believe they’ll take care of business in Boston, especially given their recent play on both sides of the floor. They need all the momentum they could get heading into the postseason and I’m sure they’ll look to avoid playing against the Miami Heat in the first round.

Boston still has some capable players on their roster, but for the most part, they’re depleted. Jeff Green has torched the Wizards this season, but without Jared Sullinger, Bayless or Humphries, the Celtics lack depth and the Wizards have done a pretty good job of closing out games against lottery bound teams as of late.

John Wall and Bradley Beal have to continue their stellar play, while Marcin Gortat and Nene are still getting adjusted to playing along side each other again. It’d be nice if Washington could gain a big advantage early so the starters could get some rest, but the Celtics have given them some trouble this season, and I don’t expect that to be the case tonight.

Regardless, Washington has to secure the sixth spot tonight because they could still potentially slip to seventh if they lose and Charlotte beats Chicago. It’s an exciting time to be a Wizards fan.

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