Wizards vs Celtics Game 7 Preview

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The TD Garden Arena will be hosting Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Washington Wizards and the Boston Celtics Monday night. When John Wall hit a buzzer-beating three pointer in Game 6 to lift the Wizards to victory, the pressure is now on the Celtics as the series returns to Boston. The winner of Monday night’s game will face the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference Final.

If the Celtics lose, it will be the first time since 2012 that the No. 1 seed did not reach the Eastern Conference Finals. This Boston team has some experience in Game 7 environments, but not a ton. Jae Crowder, Gerald Green, Al Horford, Amir Johnson, and Avery Bradley have all played in Game 7’s in their respective careers. However, this will be the first Game 7 for both star player Isaiah Thomas and head coach Brad Stevens. The Wizards have virtually zero experience when it comes to Game 7’s. The only starter on the Wizards that have played in a Game 7 is Marcin Gortat and that was seven years ago.

The series has been quite a back and forth affair. Boston took a 2-0 lead to kick off the series, but then Washington responded by winning Game 3 and Game 4. The Celtics took Game 5, and the Wizards won Game 6.

The city of Washington D.C. will be watching Monday night’s game intently. It been been 19 years since the last time a team from D.C. has reached a conference finals in any sport. With the Washington Capitals falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Wizards are their only hope of ending that streak.

What has made this series very fun is how different these two teams are. The Wizards have a

great starting five that might be able to go toe to toe with any other team’s starting five. However, their bench is one of the worst in the NBA. For example, in Game 7, the Wizards bench only scored 13 points total.

Boston, on the other hand, has multiple rotations it can play and be effective with. The Celtics don’t have any big scorers off the bench, but a bunch of guys who can do a lot of things on the court such as Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk, and Jaylen Brown.

If the city of D.C. is going to have something to celebrate, Wall and Bradley Beal are going to have to show up and dominate. Wall had a tough first half of Game 6, but bounced back and played well in the 2nd half and hit the game winning shot. On the other side, if Thomas can play well consistently throughout the game for the Celtics, it might be game over. Apart from Thomas’s 53-point performance in Game 2, he hasn’t taken over ball games. However, the fact that the Celtics have won two other games speaks volumes to the depth the team has.

The deciding factor in this game may be whether or not Boston will be able to limit Gortat on the glass. Gortat has had 24 rebounds the past two games and the Wizards have been out rebounding the Celtics all series. If Wall and Beal are playing well, the rebounds and second chance opportunities the Washington big men are getting may give the Wizards the little extra they need.

In the end, I believe the Celtics pull it out. Boston is an extremely tough place to play and the Celtics have so many rotations they can use in various scenarios.

Prediction: Boston, 102-98