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Game 2 Preview: Wizards vs. Celtics

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Isaiah Thomas will start Game 2 down a tooth, but that’s a loss he can live with considering it came in conjunction with an inspired Game 1 victory at home over John Wall and Washington Wizards.

After the first five or six minutes of that first game, it didn’t seem like the Celtics would have any sort of chance in the series, let alone the game. The Wizards came out with muscles flexed and rocketed to a 16-0 nothing lead, with Marcin Gortat beasting on the block a la Robin Lopez and keeping things alive for a Washington offense that didn’t miss much early on.

The Wizards scored 38 points in that first quarter, which was awesome. The problem is that they scored only 42 points in the second and third quarters combined, all while Boston knocked down half a million three-pointers. The shooters must have been seeing the rim as even bigger than the newly-formed gap in Isaiah Thomas’s teeth.

In a lot of ways, the tide turned when Markieff Morris injured his ankle after rolling it on Al Horford’s foot. Boston had just tied the game on the previous possession, then the Wizards came right back and lost one of their most important players for the rest of the game. He obviously could be out for even longer than that.

From that point on, the Wizards’ offense went flat while the Celtics flourished. Behind five threes from Thomas and six of them from Jae Crowder, Boston shot 48.7 percent from deep on 19-for-39 shooting behind the arc. Guess what Washington’s going to have to do in Game 2 to slow down this team?

If Boston is going to shoot 40 three-pointers (and that’s something they’ve clearly been going for dating back to the series against Chicago), then Washington has to at least make those shots difficult to get off. Entirely too many of them came entirely too easily in Game 1.

Also, Washington will need to be more aggressive on the boards. They were in the first quarter of Game 1, but things slowed from there, and by the time the game was done both teams had finished with 38 rebounds. Boston is an atrocious rebounding team, so to have any sort of shot at winning this series, the Wizards need to make sure the numbers on the boards lean a little more heavily in their favor.

As for Boston, they’re going to keep on moving the ball and letting Al Horford work his magic as a stretch five that Marcin Gortat simply cannot defend properly. If they remain as unselfish as they have been, and if Thomas keeps dropping 30-plus points every night, the Celtics could be headed for the Eastern Conference Finals.

But that’s still quite a ways away.

Who Wins Game 2?

Boston has all the momentum, but this series is going to grow increasingly physical and chippy with every passing game. Expect that physicality to lean in Washington’s favor in Game 2, even without Morris potentially. The Wizards are just as hungry for some postseason success as the Celtics are, and that should lead to them stealing Game 2 on the road. It’s going to be hard for any team to win two games in a row in this series.

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About Joel Brigham

Joel Brigham

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.