When: Tuesday, May 18 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: TD Garden — Boston, Massachusetts
How to watch: TNT
Wizards: Raul Neto (Day-to-Day).
Celtics: Robert Williams (Probable), Jaylen Brown (Out).
Tomorrow night the Wizards have a chance to send the hated Celtics into a do-or-die scenario. I’m excited, and so is my proud Boston sports fan buddy, Patrick Bond. Here’s our preview of what we expect to happen during tomorrow's Play-in game. As always, call it Bulletin Board Material.
ROC: Dear Boston and Patrick: THE WIZARDS — the most dangerous 8th seed since the #WeBelieve Warriors — ARE COMING! And the hottest team in the association is coming into the Bean with some extra motivation. See, we still remember the 2017 playoff series. Being beat by Kelly freaking Olynk in game 7 hurt so much that we went out and got an international version of him ourselves — Davis Bertans. We lost to your stretch shooting big; this time you’ll have to face ours.
We also remember the ref’s non-call from February's game, as the Celtics STOLE one from the Wizards. Jayson Tatum faced little-to-no resistance at the rim then; this time, however, there’s Daniel Gafford waiting. There’ll be no parquet robbery this time. Instead, this is what’s going to happen:
First, Russ is going to dominate scoring, passing, and rebounding, and the Celtics will have to either throw Kemba Walker or Marcus Smart at him in defense. While Kemba has never been known for the defensive side, Marcus has made his name on that end. And I respect it; he’s a dog. Yet both he and Kemba are hobbled, whereas Russ is healthy. Be prepared to see a healthy Russ drop a triple-double unabated, doing his signature rock-a-bye-baby celebration throughout the night.
Second, our center-hydra. While the trio of Alex Len, Daniel Gafford, and Robin Lopez won’t send Robert Williams and Luke Kornet to the actual coroner, they will kill the Celtics duo on the offensive end — be it ducking in for short floaters, rising high for Russ/Ish/Brad lobs, or pummeling them with hooks.
Lastly, we’ll have the toughest warrior on the court. On a bum calf, my guy Bradley Beal just went out and dropped 25. He’s a prideful player from ‘The Lou’, which means I expect more of the same. And so should you. Brad and the rest of the Wizards will drop buckets, and the thunder and lightning that the Wizards bring will cast a pall over Boston. But instead of sheets of rain descending and covering the streets, it’ll instead be the nervous sweats of a once-proud franchise facing the reality of going from conference finals to the outside of the playoffs. The end of the Celtics window is near. Wizards by double-digits. What say you, Pat?
Pat: The Wizards have been trending up and are playing great basketball, whereas the Celtics have been a picture of inconsistency but will still win this game. The reason the Celtics are going to win this game is that we want the Nets — we aren’t worried about the Wizards. One thing that is being understated is that this game will be played in BOSTON, which this Celtics fanboy fondly remembers Jae Crowder referring to as BOSS-town. The energy will be on 10 — even with modest capacity! Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, and Kemba Walker will feed off that energy. I have no doubt this team will show up and handle business. There is no panic in a team and organization that has reached the Eastern Conference finals 3 out of the last 4 years. When’s the last time you all have done? Add another year to the wait.
If I were a Wizards fan, I would just be happy with the regular season! This is a playoff game and Russell Westbrook may have an unbelievable stat line, but you know when it comes down to crunch time, he’ll turn over the ball in transition (ask Rockets fans) or take a contested shot when a better offensive player is open (ask Thunder fans). The confidence that makes the former MVP rock the baby and breaks unbelievable records will be the downfall for the Wizards. But it’s okay: there is always the next regular season to enjoy! The Wizards are happy to be here; but I see it as just denying the inevitable: The two St. Louis boys, Jayson Tatum and Bradley Beal, will be joining forces in Celtics Green.