(Going for two at once here. Those back-to-backs really are killers -mp).
Recap of last night first. Here goes.
Highest plus/minus: DeShawn Stevenson (+15).
Lowest plus/minus: Caron Butler (-5).
Brevity is the medicine for the soul. With that in mind, some quick thoughts.
- The key to the game was obviously DeShawn. Before he checked back into the game in the fourth quarter, Joe Johnson was getting whatever he wanted against Caron Butler. From there on, Johnson's only field goal came on a well-contested three pointer that few others in the league could have hit. And, of course, there were all the key plays down the stretch (the block on Marvin Williams, the forced backcourt violation, the overtime block on Joe Johnson, etc.). That was probably the best all-around game of his Wizards career.
- Antawn was also huge tonight, particularly on the glass. Not only did he grab 17 boards, but he held Josh Smith to 9 in a game with a lot of missed shots. Antawn was the main reason we grabbed more offensive rebounds than they did.
- Blatche played well, though not as well as the counting numbers indicated. I'm all for giving the young guy confidence, but it's inexcusable for Brendan Haywood to play only 10 minutes. Hopefully, it was just to rest him for tonight.
- Antawn played 48 minutes. Caron played 46. So much for giving them more rest.
- In truth, I think we were pretty lucky to win tonight. Atlanta missed 10 free throws, many of which came in the closing minutes. There was also the missed layup and several other miscues by the Hawks late in the game. I have to say, they aren't going anywhere until they find an alternative to their isolation style.
- Bad late-game execution by Caron. He has Josh Smith on him, so he has to try to drive and create contact instead of pulling up for three. At least it wasn't as bad as Maryland's late-game play this afternoon.
Overall, it was a good, gutsy win, but I worry we won't have anything left in the tank tonight. I guess we shall see.
Now, for the game thread.
I probably should put the numbers up, but they tell you what you already know. Boston is the best team in the league, they have the best defense (by far), and their offense isn't too shabby. In the first game, Kevin Garnett dominated inside, and we lost our chance when Eddie put Andray Blatche on Paul Pierce in the second quarter. That was a different Wizards team, though, for what its worth, and I don't see Boston playing on that same emotional level tonight.
Ivan is saying Rajon Rondo might not play, which is big, because his quickness always gives us fits on both ends of the court. If he doesn't go, Eddie House will start, which presents a different sort of challenge. We have to be careful to not double-team one of Pierce/Allen/Garnett with House's man, because he'll rain threes all night.
Defensively, I say we stick Haywood on Garnett and rely primarily on single coverage there. Place DeShawn on Ray Allen, and take your chances that he's tired from the night before. Then, give Caron help on Pierce with Jamison (Kendrick Perkins' man) and Daniels, so long as Eddie House is out of the game. That's our best hope to stop the Celtics on that end.
On the other end, one of the major mistakes we made in the first game was running pick and rolls with the wrong big guy. We constantly sent Kevin Garnett's man to screen for Gilbert, which played right into Boston's hands, because they wanted to leave Kendrick Perkins underneath the basket. With Gilbert out, we won't be running as much screen and roll, but when it does happen, be sure to screen with Perkins' man as much as possible.
I've got a bad feeling about tonight. We seem exhausted, while Boston's bench played a key role in getting them the win over the Nets last night. Hopefully, Haywood can be a monster because he's well-rested, and we can catch fire shooting at home in front of a sellout crowd.
This is an open game thread, so think of nicknames for both teams' Big Threes here.
Oh, and the lines are Boston by 7, and 43.4 on the Big 2.