|Preview: Celtics-Wizards||04.09.10 at 10:49 am ET|
It is now open season on Rasheed Wallace after Bill Simmons ripped him apart in an ESPN column. It’s convenient to blame all the Celtics woes on Wallace, who has not played well at all this season, and most of Simmon’s critique was completely fair.
The subtext to everything is that Wallace has somehow infected the Celtics with his own unique blend of overconfidence and laissez-faire attitude. That’s both impossible to prove and equally as difficult to disprove.
Wallace isn’t responsible for Ray Allen’s inconsistent shooting in the first half of the season, Kevin Garnett’s limited mobility or Paul Pierce’s long list of injuries. There are many reasons for the Celtics lackluster play and Wallace has certainly contributed to a lot of it with his beyond-awful 3-point shooting, shoddy rebounding and wayward attention to help-side defense
What we do know is that Wallace hasn’t left himself any wiggle room. The only way he escapes this season without any further damage to his reputation is if he plays lights out in the playoffs. The same could be said for the rest of the Celtics.
WIZARDS (24-54, 4-6 last 10)
Points Per Game: 96.0
Points Allowed: 100.9
Differential: -4.9 (26th)
Offensive Efficiency: 104.0 (25th)
Defensive Efficiency: 109.3 (18th)
Pace: 91.6 (21st)
CELTICS (49-29, 5-5 last 10)
Points Per Game: 99.3
Points Allowed: 95.3
Differential: +4.0 (10th)
Offensive Efficiency: 107.7 (15th)
Defensive Efficiency: 103.3 (4th)
Pace: 91.8 (20th)
Key Matchup: Kevin Garnett vs. Andray Blatche
The last time these two teams played, KG almost made Blatche cry after the young fella apparently told Garnett that he was “washed up,” and Garnett proceeded to unleash some vintage Garnett craziness on him. Since then Blatche has been benched by Flip Saunders after the coach said Blatche told him he didn’t want to play, an account that Blatche denied. He has said he won’t get drawn back into a war of words with Garnett tonight, but he may not have a choice.
The Wizards in a Paragraph: In one of the most wretched, dysfunctional seasons an NBA can have, allow a little lightness to break through the clouds. Shaun Livingston, the one-time preps to pros phenom is averaging eight points and four assists for the Wizards after making it back from an assortment of injuries, including a devastating incident in 2007 when his entire knee exploded. There are those who thought that Livingston could have been an evolutionary-type of player as a legitimate 6-7 point guard. Cheers to him for getting back in the game.
The Celtics in a Paragraph: Doc Rivers said he’s more focused on getting his team rest before the playoffs then concentrating on getting the third seed in the East. After tonight, they finish with three games against teams that are either in the playoffs (Milwaukee) or fighting for the last spot (Chicago). The Celtics play the Bucks twice and it will be interesting to see how Rivers plays those games since the two are currently slated to face each other in the first round. They can practically guarantee a first-round matchup with Milwaukee and the third seed if they win both.
What to Watch For: The last time these two teams played, the Celtics messed around for three quarters before turning it on late and escaping with a win. That hasn’t happened very much this season, and at the time it felt like a milestone of sorts. Like most things with the Celtics this season, the feeling was fleeting. They can save themselves a lot of time and trouble by playing with energy at the start and not falling into the trap. This is a recording.