The Runner Sports

Who Wins Game 7 Between The Boston Celtics And Washington Wizards Tonight?

This one’s for all the marbles! Or in other words the right to get swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Regardless, this series has produced drama, intrigue, questions, and even a suspension. Home court has dominated the series, with each team winning all three of their home games thus far. Boston almost closed out in Game 6 in Washington, but John Wall hit a huge three-pointer with three seconds left to keep the Wizards alive.

For the series, the Wizards are outscoring the Celtics 660-657. This would make you think that it has been a close series, but until Game 6, each game saw the teams blowing each other out. Game 1 saw the Celtics go crazy from three, and Game 2 saw Isaiah Thomas drop 53 points. When the series went to Washington in Game 3, the Wizards jumped on the Celtics and never looked back. Game 4 was close until the Wizards used a 26-0 run to crush the Celtics in the 3rd. The series shifted back to Boston for Game 5, and in that game, Avery Bradley dropped 25 in the first half to lead Boston to a route. Game 6 finally saw a close game.

Hopefully, we get the second close game of the series tonight. Here’s everything you should look for in tonight’s matchup.

Wizards 3-point and transition defense

The Wizards can be a perplexing team at times. There are times when they are locked in and focused, and they look like a great defensive team. Then there are other times where their defense looks like the Knicks’ defense. Yes, part of it is their weak bench, but there are times when their starters don’t lock in. When they are not locked in, the two areas that are the weakest are transition defense and three-point defense. This is why Washington finished 20th in defensive efficiency and 19-22 on the road. Washington was 19th in the league in defending the three, and that’s the bigger problem of the two. In their three losses, Washington has given up an average of 16 threes a game on 44% shooting. Not to state the obvious, but those numbers are horrible.

Part of this has been due to the attention Isaiah Thomas has been getting. At times the Wizards are not even paying attention to Bradley and Jae Crowder. In Boston, those two have made them pay. Washington needs to run them off the three-point line and make them put the ball on the floor and make a play. Transition defense was awful in Game 5, but hasn’t been as much of an issue. Washington does need to watch for leak outs from Bradley, Marcus Smart, and Terry Rozier, and they can’t turn it over themselves.

Boston’s Turnovers and Rebounding

When Boston loses a game you can almost guarantee that the culprit is one of these two things or both. In the three Boston losses this series, they have been outrebounded by an average of 11.6 rebounds per game. Amir Johnson can’t be pushed around by Marcin Gortat. Boston has to gang rebound, especially their wings Bradley and Crowder. They don’t need to win the rebounding battle, but they can’t get annihilated either. Boston has dealt with this all season, the turnovers are the bigger concern.

Turnovers are what led to those monster Wizards run in Games 3 and 4. Turning it over against John Wall is a recipe for disaster. In three losses, the Celtics have averaged 14.6 turnovers, compared to their three wins where they only averaged 12.6 turnovers. Doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but a turnover against Washington is a lot deadlier than it is against other teams. If Boston keeps the turnovers to the 10-12 range, and don’t lose the rebounding battle by more than five, they should win this game.

Can the Wizards’ Bench Give Them Anything? 

Like Boston with its rebounding, the Wizards’ bench has been an issue all season. In the playoffs, it has only magnified. Usually, it’s the other way, as the starters play heavier minutes in the playoffs, so the bench is not asked to do as much. However, with the Wizards, every time their bench is out there, it’s like they are skating on thin ice. The bench’s total plus/minus for the series is -144. Yikes!

In Game 6, however, it seemed like coach Scott Brooks settled on a rotation. Bojan Bogdanovic and Ian Mahinmi will be the only bench players giving the Wizards 15 minutes. Mahinmi brings toughness and rim protection, and Bogdanovic, while a weak defender, is a fantastic shooter. The trio of Brandon Jennings, Kelly Ombre Jr, and Jason Smith won’t get more than 7 to 8 minutes. Jennings, in particular, has been awful this series, but he’s their only backup point guard.

Overall I liked the rotation. Hide Jennings for 6-7 minutes preferably when Wall is on the floor also. Play your starters heavy, and play Bogdanovic only when they can hide him on Marcus Smart. Oubre should only get a few minutes, the Celtics are hiding Isaiah Thomas on him when he’s on the floor, as he has not shot consistently enough to make them pay. He will be a good player, just not yet. If their bench treads water, and Bogdanovic hits a couple of threes, the Wizards will be in good shape.

Wrapping it up and prediction

This has been a great series between two teams that hate each other. There have been momentum shifts, great adjustments, and spectacular individual performances. Game 7 is about the stars. Can Bradley Beal and Wall both have a big game on the road? Can Al Horford and Thomas both deliver 20 plus? Will Marcus Smart be terrible or awesome? Will Brad Steven play my boy Rozier more? He is +55 for the series, just saying!

These are the questions that will decide the game. I expect tonight to be close, these teams know each other extremely well by now, and the Wizards will be focused, unlike in Game 5. Boston has home court, the better coach, and a deeper team. I do not think Washington’s firepower will be able to overcome that. Before the series started I had Celtics in 7. I am sticking with my prediction. Boston wins a close one tonight, and then gets waxed by Cleveland. That being said, nothing is better than a Game 7, so enjoy it tonight!

Evan Dyal

Evan Dyal

Charlotte Hornets Writer at The Runner Sports
Evan Dyal