Washington Wizards vs. Boston Celtics
Date and Time: Monday, May 15, 2017, 8 p.m. ET
Location: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Wizards vs. Celtics TV Coverage: TNT
John Wall said he and the Wizards weren’t going out without a fight. Well, they fought and they aren’t out, no yet at least. And it was Wall who took care of business to guarantee a Game 7. Wall struggled in the first half but that was all forgotten when he sank a go-ahead three-pointer with just under four seconds left to give the Wizards a 92-91 win. In order to advance to the conference final for the first time since 1979, the Wiz will have to do something they haven’t done since April 16, 2014.
That’s the last time the Wizards won in Boston. In the three seasons since then, the Wizards have dropped five regular season meetings and three playoff games while going 0-8 ATS at the Garden. Wall came through for the Wiz on Friday scoring 23 of his 26 points after halftime, and his running mate Bradley Beal was also on fire. Beal scored 33 and the two combined for 23 of the team’s 26 fourth quarter points. The Wiz got little else from the remainder of the roster and produced their lowest point total to cash the under for only the fourth time this postseason.
Anything can happen in a Game 7 and the Celtics certainly didn’t want to return to Boston. They had a chance to become the first road team to post a victory in this series, leading by five points with 69 seconds remaining. They allowed the next five points then traded baskets before Al Horford banked in a shot with 7.9 seconds left. After Wall nailed a three, Isaiah Thomas missed a contested shot at the horn.
The Celtics did plenty right on Friday and feel as though they let one slip away. The C’s were stingy on defense, a staple of the team under Brad Stevens the past few seasons, but an area that has faltered this year. They held Wall to 9 of 25 shooting and limited the Wiz to 43 percent for the game. Washington’s point total was its lowest in the last 10 meetings and the first time the C’s held them to fewer than 100 in that span. Boston just couldn’t get untracked offensively, shooting 40.5 percent and making 11 three-pointers.
Player to Watch
After torching the Wizards for 86 points in the first two games of the series, Washington adjusted its defensive philosophy to shut down Thomas. It worked with Thomas scoring just 77 points combined over the past four games. Not only have the Wizards blanketed Thomas when he has the basketball, they’ve also done a nice job of denying him touches, which has helped in reducing the point production. Apparently the Wizards are fine with letting someone other than Thomas beat them.
But come Monday expect Thomas to be right in the middle of all the action. He scored 33 points in the series opener and went off for 53 when he took 33 shots in Game 2. Like the regular season, Thomas has been more productive at home. He averaged nearly two points per game more at home during the regular season and his splits have been even more drastic in the postseason. Buoyed by his 53-point night in Game 2, Thomas is averaging 30.2 points per game at the Garden compared to just 20 points per game on the road in six contests.
Wizards vs. Celtics Free Picks
For the Wizards to take the next step they’ll have to beat Boston on the road, something they haven’t done in the last eight tries. And unlike every other series this postseason, the homecourt advantage has been just that with these teams. Not that it can’t be done, but the Wiz have struggled away from D.C. all year. Washington squeaked out a victory on Thursday, but failed to cover the 5-point spread.
Expect the line to be in the 4-5 point range, like it’s been the entire series, and check back for odds at BookMaker.eu. The Celtics let one slip away on Friday and will be pumped to not let it happen again. However, the pressure is on Boston to win Game 7 as the No. 1 seed in the East and that will keep this one close. But I like the C’s to pull this one out late with the Wizards banking on the points.
Wizards vs. Celtics ATS Pick: Grab the points with Washington at BookMaker.eu
Wizards vs. Celtics Score Prediction: Celtics 107 – Wizards 104