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Wizards vs. Celtics preview: Washington looks to stop the bleeding against a short-handed Boston squad

NBA: Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The stumbling Wizards welcome the Boston Celtics to town on Wednesday evening, looking to get revenge against a team that swept them during the regular season last year. Both Jae Crowder and Al Horford, the heralded free agent that the Wizards whiffed on, did not make the trip to D.C. and will miss Wednesday night’s tilt.

Time is ticking on the 1-5 Wizards. It would be pretty upsetting if they can’t beat a Celtics team that’s down two starters. What’s worse is, the schedule doesn’t ease up as they end the week with back-to-back games against Cleveland and at Chicago.

The Wizards must take care of business against a shorthanded team in what figures to be a road-like atmosphere as the Celtics faithful have often taken over road games at the Verizon Center. Washington also needs to get to a hot start to help reassure hometown fans who have grown concerned by the team’s slow start. Going into this season, many Wizards fans had been incredibly intrigued with the team and there was a time that they preferred Washington's talent over Boston's. Hopefully this is the night they can turn it around If they can put it all together. If so, it could be a wild finish.

Game Info

When: Wednesday, November 9th at 7 p.m. ET
Where: The Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic
Radio: 1500 AM and Wizards Radio App

Injury Report

Wizards: Ian Mahinmi (Out, Knee)

Celtics: Al Horford (Out, Concussion), Jae Crowder (Out, ankle), Kelly Olynyk (Game Time Decision, Shoulder)

What to watch

John Wall vs. Isaiah Thomas

Thomas averaged 23 points against the Wizards last season and 27.5 points in the two games at Verizon Center. It’s possible that number could have been even higher but several of the Wizards vs. Celtics games last season ended in blowouts.

John Wall has traditionally struggled against small and speedy point guards and Thomas is no exception. For the Wizards to win this game, John Wall will have to win the battle of the point guards, especially on the defensive end.

Can the Wizards close out a game?

The Wizards have held the lead in the fourth quarter in all but one game this season (Toronto) but have just a 1-5 record to show for it. The Wizards have been able to put together solid stretches of play but haven’t played well for a complete 48 minutes. Good teams find ways to win while bad teams find ways to lose in crunch time. Right now the Wizards are finding ways to lose games and will need to put together a complete, 48-minute effort if they hope to be competitive in this one.

Can the bench hold their own for a second straight game?

The bench was far from great Monday night against the Rockets but they were able to hold their own. The reserves combined for 24 points and maintained the lead or kept the team within striking distance when inserted in the second and fourth quarters. It’s no secret that the bench has been a major issue for the Wizards so far this season. The backups will need to hold their own again to take pressure off of the starters if the Wizards are going to come away with a victory.

Most Likely Wizards Killer: Marcus Smart

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Smart is a big, physical guard who is going to make things challenging for the team’s backup guards. If he can get hot from deep (he’s shooting 31.3 percent while averaging 5 attempts per game this season) it could be a long night.