After two tough, but winnable games in Boston, the Wizards head home to the friendly confines of Verizon Center Thursday evening for Game 3 against the Celtics. In the blink of an eye, we’ve arrived at the most important game of the season and are already in “must win” territory as a loss would put the Wizards in a 0-3 deficit.
When: Thursday, May 3rd at 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Wizards: Ian Mahinmi (Out, Calf)
What to Watch for
How in the world are the Wizards going to stop Isaiah Thomas?
So, anyone have any ideas on how to do this? Thomas scored 33 points in Game 1 only to explode for 53 in Game 2 on Tuesday night. Washington has historically struggled with smaller point guards and Thomas is no different.
Washington chose to play Thomas straight up for the majority of both games with a combination of Wall, Beal, and Oubre with the assignment. The Wizards’ struggle in the pick-and-roll defense as they switch too freely often resulting in a big guarding Thomas. It’ll be interesting to see if Brooks opts to trap Thomas in these situations (like they did Kyle Lowry in the 2015 playoffs) to get the ball out of his hands and make others beat them.
Expect to see a combination of Wall, Beal, and Oubre guarding him in addition to traps and double teams being thrown his way. The Wizards can’t afford to lose this one so they need to do everything possible to make sure Thomas doesn’t burn them.
The Wizards need a bench player to have an out of body performance
Washington’s bench has been awful through the first two games of the series. Outside of Oubre, no one has stepped up as of late. Yes, Jennings can push the pace but he currently has as many points as Trey Burke in this series. Bogdanovic has been very hot and cold (more so the latter) to the point where Brooks benched him for the entire second half in Game 2. Jason Smith has only been OK.
If the Wizards are going to win Game 3, they’re going to need help from one of if not two of these guys. Role players tend to play better with the home crowd cheering them on so hopefully that’ll be enough to get these guys going.
It’s early May, in the second round of the playoffs, and the defensive concerns that we had in February are just as apparent now as they were then. The Wizards have given up an average of 126 points through the first two games. That’s downright awful. Not a whole lot else to say there.
Most Likely Wizards Killer: Kelly Olynyk (again)
Olynyk has quietly had a very good and efficient series for the Celtics so far. Olynyk is averaging 10 points per game off the bench, is a perfect 4-4 from three-point range, and 8-10 from the field in the series. The Celtics already have plenty of three-point shooters that the Wizards need to worry about. There’s no need to let Olynyk keep it going too.