Game 81: Celtics vs. Wizards
|(55-25, 23-17 away)||-- vs. --||(22-58, 19-21 home)|
PAYNE'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
- Response Time ... Again: After the Celtics lost to the Chicago Bulls last Thursday, 97-81, they needed a bounce-back game, and the Wizards served as the perfect opponent the very next night. Boston reverted back to the aggressive, attacking team it has to be in last Friday's 104-88 win over Washington, and while a win against a club with three victories on the road this season wasn't enough to make up for Thursday's lashing, the C's at least came away having played better basketball. The same formula is in the works for tonight's tilt, as the Celtics need to get back up after stumbling badly in a 100-77 loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday. Including tonight's game, the Celtics have two games remaining before the postseason, and they still would like to play well and gather momentum, even if that consists only of a modest two-game winning streak.
- Run, Run, Run: The Celtics registered 25 fast break points against the Wizards last Friday, good for their second highest total of the season. Playing on the second night of a back-to-back didn't hurt Boston's chances of scoring in transition, and the same should hold true tonight against the exact same Wizards club. Taking advantage of Washington's turnovers helped, as the C's converted 21 Washington miscues into 23 points last Friday.
- Get Baby Going: Glen Davis remains pivotal to the Celtics' championship hopes, despite his struggles over his last five games. How Davis performs off the bench will go a long way in determining how far the Celtics advance in the postseason, and the fourth-year forward could use a confidence boost. In his last five games, Davis has averaged 8.0 points and 3.4 rebounds, while shooting just 34.1 percent from the field. Putting together back-to-back strong games to close out the season will certainly help Davis regain his rhythm before the playoffs get under way.
Washington (22-58) defeated Atlanta 115-83 on Saturday, handing the visiting Hawks their fourth straight loss.
The Wizards have won five of eight, largely by taking advantage of slumping opponents. Since March 28, Washington has defeated Utah, Cleveland, Charlotte, Detroit and Atlanta. Those teams are a combined 10-24 in that same span.
A couple of recent NBA D-Leaguers helped lead the Wizards on Saturday, as Othyus Jeffers had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Larry Owens scored 10.
"Those guys have helped bring our energy level up," coach Flip Saunders said.
Veteran Andray Blatche led the way against the Hawks with 23 points while shooting 9 of 15. Blatche is averaging 25.5 points -- 8.7 better than his season average -- in six games this month. That includes a 20-point, 10-rebound performance against the Celtics on Friday.
John Wall also had 20 points in that game, along with seven assists and five steals. The rookie is averaging 21.0 points in his last four games.
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