Boston at Washington
Time: 7 PM CT (TNT)
Spread: WAS -7
Odds c/o 5dimes
Crucial in replacing the injured Gordon Hayward has been rookie Jayson Tatum and second-year swingman Jaylen Brown, who ranks No. 3 and No. 2, respectively, on the team in scoring.
Tatum has been nothing short of sensational and is averaging 13.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game in 30.5 minutes a night. Brown has improved nearly every facet of his game and is good for 14.1 points and 0.97 steals per night.??But perhaps the biggest difference maker has been franchise player Kyrie Irving. Irving was acquired at the “low” cost of Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder from the Cleveland Cavs this past offseason, and he is playing the best and most efficient basketball of his NBA career. Irving has missed the last five games.
Irving has averaged 24.9 points per game and five assists per night while posting a team-high PER of 25.4. Along with Irving’s career year has come one from veteran Al Horford, who has developed into one of the league’s most effective high-post passers.?The Celtics have been without Irving, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, and the injuries are why they are not favored in tonight’s contest.
Horford ranks second in assists behind Irving (5.1) at 4.9 per game—and he is shooting a blistering 43 percent from three-point range while connecting on nearly 50 percent of his field goals overall.?Outside of these highly effective four players, has been the strong play of a cast of role players: Marcus Smart is still one of the league’s best defenders, and
Marcus Morris seems to have found a home in Boston, replacing the colossal bust that was Jared Sullinger several seasons ago.
Second-Year guard Terry Rozier has developed nicely in his second season, and despite his shooting struggles (40 percent field goals) has looked as though he will eventually be a very integral part of the team.?In 23 minutes a night, Rozier makes his impact known, though his 9.3 points per game may seem humble. The fact remains, Brad Stevens simply knows best how to milk the talent of his roster, and the disaster that Hayward incurred is largely forgotten by a
Celtics’ fanbase thinking “title” no matter the cost.
Rozier has been starting at the 1-spot with Irving unavailable.
WASHINGTON WIZARDS NEWS & NOTES
The Wizards are currently 42-38, but there is not much intrigue or mystery behind this team. It is still a team highly dependent on its backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, and a team still bereft of depth on the bench, for the most part.
Wall and Beal really have done all that could be asked of a backcourt. Beal leads the team in scoring at 23.6 points per game and Wall is good for nearly 20 a night, in addition to his 9.2 assists, but Otto Porter is still falling short of expectations and sophomore Kelly Oubre Jr. is not radically improved from his rookie season a year ago.
The Wizards ultimately need to add another superstar to take any sort of monumental jump toward contention, and it may be that the team is able to make a play at DeMarcus Cousins to reunite him with his former Kentucky teammate Wall.?Outside of that, there is no reason to expect this team to do much more than be a “pretender” with the glaring holes in its roster, and the overwhelming mediocrity at 3 of the 5 positions on the court.
Former Orlando Magic player Marcin Gortat is a good center, and one of the best in the pick and roll, but Markieff Morris is an erratic head case and the Wiz’ bench is overall just poor. Another former Magic player, Jason Smith, has returned to earth some two years after his breakout season in Orlando, which now can be totally labeled a fluke, as he led the league in mid-range shooting that year.?The Wizards are still the Wizards, to be terse and dismissive of the team, once again.