The home team has won every game in this Eastern Conference semi-final series and Wednesday night was no different. What was different was that Boston guard Avery Bradley was the main contributor of the Celtics offense for a change. In almost 30 and a half minutes of play, Bradley scored 29 points (playoff career-high) while shooting 12 of 19 from the field (63.2%) and 4 of 7 from three-point land (57.1%). This was only the third time in Avery’s playoff career that he scored 20 or more points in a postseason game. Game 5 (24 points) and game 6 (23 points) in the first round against the Chicago Bulls were the other times and all three of these games have been in this year’s postseason. Boston bounced back in a strong fashion after losing games 3 and 4 at Washington by an average margin of 23 points per game by getting a huge game from someone other than star guard Isaiah Thomas (18 points, 9 assists) and by making 16 of 33 three-pointers (48.5%). What else led to Boston’s victory in Game 5?
Boston shot 46 of 87 (52.9%) from the field and 16 of 33 (48.5%) from behind the three-point line. However, the Celtics shot just 15 of 21 from the free-throw line (71.4%) which is below the point that they need to be at in order to make winning games easier. In the four playoff losses that Boston have sustained, they have shot 71.6% from the charity stripe. However, in the 7 wins in the playoffs including this game 5 win, Boston shot 78.6% from the foul line. It is imperative for Boston to shoot closer to the upper 70’s in percentage in order to make their wins easier to come by.
Boston, which came into the playoffs allowing the 8th-least points per game to its opponents (104.3 PPG), held Washington to shooting 38.5% from the field and 24.1% shooting from three-point line. This display of defense was incredible given that the Wizards came into the playoffs averaging 109.8 PPG which ranked them as the 4th-highest scoring team in the NBA. However, Boston gave Washington 29 shots from the foul line which is too many free shots for a high-octane offense like the Wizards to take in pivotal playoff games. The bottom line is that, if Boston can limit Washington’s transition opportunities and field-goal shooting, the Celtics could win this series in 6 games.
Boston won the rebounding battle over Washington 48-45. This is crucial for the Celtics given that they struggle in the rebounding department against almost every team in the NBA. To further this point, out of the 16 playoff teams, Boston is the 4th-worst team cleaning the glass with 39.1 rebounds per game. In the regular season, the Celtics were the 4th-worst team rebounding the basketball. These terrible rebounding numbers are due in part to their small lineup with forward/center Al Horford playing center. Outside of Horford, there are not many other good rebounders on the team.
Given that this game was one-sided from the beginning, Boston was able to hold onto their lead and build on it. As long as the Celtics continued to win the rebounding battle and shoot well from behind the three-point line, Boston could wrap up this series without having to go to a game 7. Finally, Boston had 33 assists on its 46 field-goals which proves the ball-movement within head coach Brad Steven’s system matters in any situation.
Game #5 in an NBA best-of-7 series tied at 2-2 has been paramount in determining which team will emerge from the series victorious on their way to the next round. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the team that wins Game #5 in a best-of-7 series that is tied at 2-2 goes on to win the series 83% of the time. Also, according to ESPN BPI, the Celtics have a 67% chance of winning Game #5 given that the game will be at TD Garden (Boston’s home arena). Given those two statistics with advanced and historical data built in, it is safe to say that history and projections favor the Celtics in Game #5 and in this series. Are there other reasons why? Let’s see.
Shoot The Three-Ball Well
In games #1 and #2, Boston shot a combined 32 of 75 (42.6%) from three-point line and with those shooting numbers, they will be unstoppable in any game that they play. Even though making shots would fall into this category so that Washington has fewer chances to score in transition, making three-point shots eliminate the long rebounds that Wizards guard John Wall and company feast off of in their play. This is evident in their 18.9 fastbreak points per game average which makes this team dangerous in the open court. Isaiah Thomas and the rest of the Celtics have to get off to a good start from 3-point land or Game #5 will be a long one.
In Boston’s 6 wins over the first and second round of the playoffs, they have turned the ball over only 11.5 times per game. Meanwhile, in their losses, the Celtics have turned the ball over a whopping 17 times in their four losses in this season’s playoffs. Ball security is a must for this squad given that Washington is a deadly team in transition and when given extra opportunities, the Wizards will go on long runs without thinking of slowing down.
Boston has to shoot free throws if they are going to win this series. In the 4 games that Boston has lost in these playoffs, the team has shot 71.6% from the charity stripe. However, in their 6 wins, the team has shot 79.8% from the foul line. Achieving this feat will allow Boston to put points on the board with no time going off the clock and it gives all of the players more rest to keep up with the speedy Wizards.
For the Celtics to win Game #3 tonight on TNT @ 8pm, they have to shoot the three-ball well, limit their turnovers, and make their free throws in order to give themselves a chance. Other than that, Boston will have to hope that Washington guard Bradley Beal continues his poor shooting from three and that Boston forward Amir Johnson will be effective in his limited minutes.
In Game #2 of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals, the Boston Celtics defeated the Washington Wizards 129-119. This win on Tuesday night gave the Celtics a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series against the Wizards. Boston guard Isaiah Thomas scored 53 points on 18 of 33 shooting (54.5%), grabbed four rebounds, and dished out four assists in 45 minutes of work. His counterpart, Washington guard John Wall, scored 40 points on 16 of 32 shooting (50%), dished out 13 assists, and blocked 3 shots in 47 minutes of play. Given the play of the teams’ best players, how did Boston win the game? Here’s how.
The Celtics shot 45 of 88 from the field (51.1%) and 13 of 36 from behind the three-point line (36.1%) while the Wizards shot 46 of 99 from the field (46.5%) and 10 of 34 from 3-point land (29.4%). Boston not only shot better from the field and from beyond the 3, they also took 11 less shots to get their percentages. Free-throw shooting was in favor of Washington as they shot 17 of 22 from the foul line (77.3%) which was less than a percentage point better than Boston’s 26 of 34 (76.5%). Despite Washington shooting better from the charity stripe, Boston shot 12 more foul shots which was a reason for their victory given that they were able to foul out Wizards Center Marcin Gortat and Forward Markieff Morris in overtime.
Washington exploded on Boston in the first quarter to the tune of a 42-29 lead. A big reason for the Wizards’ great start is because of John Wall’s career playoff-highs of 19 points and 6 assists in the opening period. Washington shot 15 of 24 from the field (62.5%) and 5 of 8 from behind the 3-point line (62.5) and these incredible shooting numbers were the reason for their fast start. However, as the Celtics have done on numerous occasions in the 2017 NBA playoffs, Boston recovered in the second quarter by outscoring Washington 35-25 in the second quarter to go into halftime down just 67-64.
Thomas scored 53 points which was the most points scored in an NBA playoff game since Allen Iverson scored scored 55 points for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2003 and the second-most points in a playoff game by a Boston Celtics player (John Havlicek has the Boston record of 54 points). Not only did Thomas achieve those two feats, he also scored 29 points over the fourth and overtime periods. Finally, Isaiah made 5 of Boston’s 13 three-pointers and 12 of the team’s 26 free throws. Thomas did everything that his team needed him to do.
In a Game #2 that included 11 lead changes and 7 ties, this series should go the full 7 games given that both teams are highly contested. The winner of this series will only win through the battle of wills.
The Boston Celtics have the 16th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. In many mock drafts, the Celtics are expected to pick Croatian forward Dragan Bender at the #3 spot. However, some people believe that Boston could pick Washington forward Marquese Chriss or Providence guard Kris Dunn. I believe that the Celtics should pick Bender because he has the makings of a prototypical stretch-4. Dragan can run the floor and he can shoot the 3-pointer. Boston needs depth and shooting in the frontcourt so Bender fits this need. The next decision is who to choose with the pick at #16.
In the latest mock Draft developed by NBA.com writer Scott Howard Cooper, Boston drafts Syracuse wingman Malachi Richardson. Richardson, at 6’6″ and 200 pounds, has the size of a prototypical shooting guard. Malachi is athletic and is streaky when he is on early. Despite his poor shot selection, he has the ability to get hot at any moment. Richardson needs to improve on his ball-handling and decision-making, but once he improves on those 2 areas, he will be a terrific scorer in the NBA.
I agree with most who say that Boston would take Richardson at #16. Malachi has the potential to be a top-flight scorer in the league and because of his streaky nature, he will be a good backup for the Celtics while he develops on his weaknesses. In a couple of years, Malachi can be the bench scorer that Boston needs in order to move up into the status of title contender.
Through luck and smart work by General Manager Danny Ainge, the Boston Celtics have the #3 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Despite earning a 48-34 in the 2015-2016 NBA regular season and being a #5 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Celtics have a lottery pick. Boston swapped their first-round pick with the Brooklyn Nets in order to obtain the #3 overall selection. The question is: who should the Celtics pick?
The Boston Celtics would love to have talents like LSU forward Ben Simmons or Duke forward Brandon Ingram. However, both players are expected to be the top 2 picks in the draft. This means that Boston would not be able to get either one so this post will reflect that.
At #3 overall, the Celtics should draft Croatian forward Dragan Bender. Boston needs depth in the frontcourt and that need was shown in the 2016 NBA Eastern Conference first round against the Atlanta Hawks. Dragan is a versatile frontcourt player who has shown to have a good touch on his jumpshots. Bender has the potential to play the 4 and 5 positions at seven feet tall with the range of a stretch four.
The Boston Celtics will have 8 draft picks in the 2016 NBA Draft. The team will have 3 first-round picks and 5 second-round picks. For some of you who do not know, Boston made many moves to get as many picks as they have this year. The Celtics made the 2016 NBA Playoffs as a 5th seed in the Eastern Conference by winning 48 games. Playoff teams do not qualify for the NBA lottery. However, Boston, as part of the trade that sent forwards Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets, got the Nets first-round pick for this year.
As it is, the Celtics have the #3 overall pick. With this pick, Boston could draft players such as: Oklahoma shooting guard Buddy Hield, power forward Dragan Bender from Croatia, or Kentucky guard Jamal Murray. After this #3 overall pick, the Celtics will pick again at #16. After the #16 overall pick, Boston picks #23, #31, #35, #45, #51, and #58.
The Boston Celtics ranked 24th in the NBA in field-goal shooting and 28th in three-point shooting. Despite ranking 10th in the league in offensive rating, Boston did not have effective shooting as a team. What the numbers say about this Celtics’ team is that they score a lot of points (because they were 5th in the NBA in points per game), but they are not efficient in doing so. One of the off=season objectives for Boston would be getting shooters through free agency, trades, or the draft. Only 1 player shoots over 40% from three-point range and that was center Kelly Olynyk at 40.5%. 3 other players shot above 35% but less than 40% from three-point land in guards Isaiah Thomas (36%) and Avery Bradley (36%) and forward Jonas Jerebko (39.8%).
Some players in the 2016 NBA draft that would provide shooting would be: (1) Duke small forward Brandon Ingram, (2) Croatia power forward Dragan Bender, and (3) Washington forward Marquese Chriss. Ingram shot 41% from three-point range during his freshman season at Duke, but he may not be around because Brandon is projected as a top-2 pick. The Celtics could have a pick as early as 3rd, but Ingram will likely be picked by either the Philadelphia 76ers or the Los Angeles Lakers.
Dragan Bender is one of the best European players right now and he has shown the ability to shoot jumpers from mid-range and long-range. Bender has shown the ability to play in the pick-and-roll rolling to the basket or popping out for the jump shot. His NBA comparison was Chicago Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic who is a prototypical stretch-4 in the NBA.
Marquese Chriss shot 35% from behind the three-point line during his freshman season at Washington University. He was an honorable mention Pac-12 all-freshman selection as he started all 34 games for the Huskies. Has shown the ability to score in bunches as he scored over 20 points 4 times last season.
There are other players in this year’s draft that fit the shooting needs, but I pointed out the players who may not play point guard, shooting guard, or power forward. The reason is because three of the team’s best long-range shooters are Thomas (point guard), Avery Bradley (shooting guard) and Jonas Jerebko (power forward). The players mentioned for the draft could fill the shooting needs at the small forward and center positions.