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Wizards in Boston for potential playoff preview

March 20, 2017
Game Info

TD Garden | 7:30pm | CSN | 1500 AM

Probable Starters

Wizards (42-27): G - Wall, G - Beal, F - Porter, F - Smith, C - Gortat

Celtics (44-26): G - Thomas, G - Bradley, F - Crowder, F - Johnson, C - Horford

MedStarWizWizards: Morris (illness) - TBD 

Celtics: Thomas (knee) - TBD

Last Time Out 

3/18/17: Wizards 93 - Hornets 98

The Wizards were held to a season-low 36.7% shooting on Saturday night in Charlotte as the Hornets beat them for the first time this year.  John Wall led the team with 19 points, Bradley Beal had 18 points, and Otto Porter finished with 16.  

3/19/17: Celtics 99 - Sixers 105

The Celtics had their three-game win streak snapped as they lost in Philadelphia yesterday afternoon.  The Sixers rallied from a 13-point deficit in the third quarter for the upset win over the Celtics.  Al Horford led the Celts with 27 points, while the team went just 6/29 from 3-point range.  

Season Series with Boston

Washington 2-1 

Both teams have held serve thus far as they get set for the final game in the season series tonight.   The Wizards blew out the Celtics in DC in early November behind a career-high 34 points from Otto Porter, then the Celtics returned the favor with a 117-108 win in Boston in January behind 38 from Isaiah Thomas.  Two weeks later the Wiz beat Boston 123-108 in DC to take the series lead, as Bradley Beal scored 13 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter to help seal the win.  

What to Watch For 

Playoff Implications 

Tonight's game won't just be one of 82 for these teams as this one could really play a big role in seeding in the Eastern Conference.  The Wizards and Celtics will most likely be hosting Game 1 of a playoff series next month in the first round of the playoffs, but they are separated by just 1.5 games in the standings and should they meet in the second round, home court could be at stake in tonight's game.  The Wiz enter third in the East, just one game behind Boston in the loss column, which means a win tonight would not only tie the Celtics with 27 losses, but would also give the Wiz the season series (3-1) and the all-important tie-breaker, should the two teams finish with identical records.  If the Celtics win, they would tie the season series at 2-2 and take a 2.5 games lead in the standings with just 12 games left.  While nothing would be wrapped up, a loss in Boston tonight would make it very difficult for the Wizards to find a way to pass the Celts in the standings, but a win would put them right in the mix with about 3.5 weeks left in the regular season.  

No Love Lost 

Not only will this be a big game in the standings, but there will also be a lot of pride on the line as these two teams have built up some history in the three games they've played this season.  Most of the extra curricular actions took place the last time the Wizards were in Boston, which resulted in a couple of technical fouls in the game and some postgame antics that ended up with players from both teams receiving fines.   The atmosphere will be electric tonight in Boston as both teams along with the fans know what's at stake, so expect a playoff-like crowd in this one.  

Thomas and Morris Questionable 

Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics leading scorer, missed the last two games for Boston with a bone bruise in his knee and his status for tonight's game is uncertain.    Keef Morris has missed the last two games for the Wizards with an illness and his status for tonight is also unknown.  Marcus Smart has started in place of Thomas for Boston, while Jason Smith has filled in for Morris for the Wizards.  

Key Matchup 

Bradley Beal vs. Avery Bradley 

This will be a critical matchup tonight and one we didn't get to see in the previous two meetings as Bradley was out with an Achilles injury.  Beal torched the Celts in those two games, scoring 35 in Boston and then 31 in Washington, but he'll have his work cut out for him against one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA tonight.  Bradley also averages just under 17 points per game and is shooting 41% from 3-point range, so this will really be a great battle between two of the best shooting guards in the East tonight.