Game 7 Wizards/Celtics

By: Art Aronson | Sunday, May 14, 2017
College Basketball

They call it the Eastern Conference semifinals, but in actuality the Celtics-Wizards taffy pull could just as easily be named The LeBron James Appetizer.  The exhausted winner of the Boston-Washington series, which will end around 10:30 p.m. Eastern time Monday night in Boston, gets less than 48 hours of rest before meeting the rested, relaxed, champing-at-the-bit Cavaliers.

It hasn't been a series for the ages, as both the Wiz and Celts have taken turns winning at home and laying eggs on the road. Perpetually sour-faced John Wall has been alternately magnificent (game-winning shot in Game 6) and invisible. Likewise, Boston PG Isaiah Thomas has been both unstoppable (53 points in Game 2 win) and human (key turnover late in Game 6 loss).

The visitors are 0-6 in this series, and Game 7 bettors have taken notice.  Boston was installed as a 4-point favorite at the jump, and Celtics backers quickly bet that number up to 4.5. Even at that, two of every three dollars wagered as of Saturday night figured on a Boston cover.

Can Washington break the mold and break through in Boston?

The Wizards think they can.  The point to Game 2, which required an overtime session and the big scoring night from Thomas for the Celtics to prevent D.C. from stealing one in Boston.  Washington has also had some nice runs at TD Garden, fueled by Boston's propensity to clang 3s and turn the ball over, feeding into Wizards spurts.  It's happened before, so why can't it happen again in the pressure of a Game 7?  Then there's Washington's huge advantage on the boards, where the Wizards' Marcin Gortat is pretty much guaranteed double-digit boards against a Celtic from line that provides little resistance.

Boston, meanwhile, loves what it's getting from SG Avery Bradley, who has scored 56 points total in the last two games and provided cover for SF Jae Crowder, who is mired in a deep slump (15 for 43 from the field since Game 1).

In the end, this one will probably come down to how effective Washington is in stifling Thomas.  When the Wizards have been successful, they have smothered IT at the 3-point line with double- and even triple-teams, using size to block off Thomas's passing lanes.  Figure on Scott Brooks continuing that strategy on Monday night.

Meanwhile, the Cavs (a perfect 8-0 in the playoffs) wait - not caring all that much whether they travel to Boston for Game 1 of the ECF or take on the Wizards in Cleveland.


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