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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Boston Versus Washington Preview

Eastern Conference Second Round

#1 Boston (53-29) vs. #4 Washington (49-33)

Season series: Tied, 2-2

Washington can win if…John Wall dominates the series at both ends of the court. He is a modern-day Micheal Ray Richardson but without Richardson's off-court baggage. Richardson was an elite player when his mind and body were right and he spearheaded the Nets' shocking 1984 upset of the defending champion 76ers. Like Richardson, Wall scores despite not being a great shooter, he passes very well and he can be very disruptive defensively.

The Wizards will also need a high level performance from Wall's backcourt mate Bradley Beal, a smooth and deadly perimeter shooter.

This team started the season slowly but rallied down the stretch and is viewed in some quarters as the biggest threat to LeBron James' streak of six straight Eastern Conference championships. First, though, the Wizards must deal with the number one seed Boston Celtics.

Boston will win because…the Celtics may be one of the weakest number one seeds in recent memory but they are still the number one seed and they showed a lot of resilience while rallying from a 2-0 first round deficit versus the number eight seed Chicago Bulls.

The Celtics rely heavily on the wizardry of 5-9 point guard Isaiah Thomas, who is mourning the recent death of his younger sister in a car accident, but they also have four-time All-Star center Al Horford, defensive ace Avery Bradley and gritty forward Jae Crowder.

Coach Brad Stevens is considered a rising star and it will be interesting to see which buttons he pushes as this series progresses.

Other things to consider: The Eastern Conference pecking order is interesting. The Cavaliers are the established champions and the Raptors are the veteran challengers while the Celtics and Wizards are the up and coming young teams. At some point the Cavaliers will either fall off or be knocked off and it will be intriguing to see which of these three teams accomplishes that feat (not necessarily this year)--or if the task is ultimately accomplished by a different team, such as Milwaukee.

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posted by David Friedman @ 9:26 AM



At Saturday, April 29, 2017 11:02:00 AM, Blogger Nick said...

I've got Washington by a nose here. They are a hard team to hide Thomas defensively against, they rebound well, and I think Wall may be able to at least intermittently short-circuit Thomas defensively.

That said, Washington's bench is nothing special, and while Scotty Brooks does a lot of things well as a coach, in-game play calling and in-series adjustment making are not among them. If Avery Bradley can take Wall, or even just Beal, out of the series Washington will be starved for offense, and Boston's bench is full of interesting pieces, most notable Marcus Smart (who will see a lot of time on Wall) and perhaps Gerald Green (who only does one thing especially well but can win a quarter almost by himself when he is hot). I doubt we'll see Green start in this series, as you cannot hide him on either of WAS's bigs and putting him on Porter would leave Thomas covering either Wall or Beal.

At Saturday, April 29, 2017 3:09:00 PM, Blogger Kyle Falls said...

Wizards in 6. As I picked the Bulls to beat the Celtics, they got lucky with the Rondo injury.

At Saturday, April 29, 2017 3:46:00 PM, Anonymous JT said...

I'll pick the Celtics, in 7. I believe they have the more balanced attack on offense and Bradley/Smart will stifle or make life hard on either Wall or Beal, but not both. Also a key is I think the Celtics bigs will be far more productive this series than the Wiz big guys. Gortat, Porter and Morris all gave them next to nothing against the Hawks, which is why Wall had to go off for multiple 30 point games.

also the thing that bothered me with their big guys beyond Gortat's disappearance was Morris running his mouth for a few games, but he was getting his brains bashed in every game by Paul Millsap. Paul was owning him play by play, bucket by bucket and it wasn't even close. in addition, the Celts transition D will be integral against Wall's one man forays into the fast-break but I believe they are up to the task, just look at how they held down Chicago.

At Saturday, April 29, 2017 8:27:00 PM, Blogger Awet M said...

Gortat has not performed well in the first round, but that is due to Howard's extreme physicality. Horford is an entirely different kettle of fish, and he should be productive even by playmaking alone.

Isiah must neutralize Wall's impact, and Bradley must control Beal for the Celtics to have a chance. They cannot take any games off.

Coach Stevens is obviously superior to Brooks, but coaching counts only when both teams are equally matched, talent-wise and experience-wise.

At Saturday, April 29, 2017 9:50:00 PM, Blogger Kion Stephen said...

I also think the Wiz will win this one... primarily because when it's starters vs starters, Boston really doesn't have a place to hide Thomas, besides Porter, who's a foot taller. That doesn't mean that Porter will suddenly be a post up demon, but he does have a decent 3 point shot this year, and Thomas can't bother his release.

Overall, i think this series comes down to the bench - if Washington can avoid hemorrhaging points when Wall and/or Beal rests, their match advantages in the starting lineup should help them prevail.

Wizz in 6.


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