The New Look Celtics Want More
Boston is on a mission to make some noise in the playoffs
By Maxwell Stuart
On an overcast, windy night in Chicago, the Celtics rolled the Bulls to earn their first playoff series win under head coach Brad Stevens. The stellar performance put on by the Celtics in the last four games of the series begs the question: in the postseason, when the details really matter, how deep can this team go?
The Washington Wizards will visit Boston for the first game of their round two matchup Sunday at 1 PM. The almost-Bullets, led by John Wall, boast possibly the most robust offensive backcourt in the Eastern Conference. The size of Beal and Wall combined with their shooting and athleticism could prove to be a daunting task for the three headed defensive trio of Crowder, Smart, and Bradley.
When it comes to the Wizards bench, however, question marks remain. Roster depth becomes of secondary importance once the playoffs begin, but the disparities between the two units are tough to look past. Don’t be surprised to see the Celtics go at players like Brandon Jennings and Jason Smith when the D.C. starters rest.
While bench matchups might be an advantage for Boston, coaching and leadership is a more difficult to quantify. The coaching battle between Brad Stevens against Scott Brooks should be fascinating, and is a subplot to keep an eye on as the series progresses.
Stevens has stayed mum on the starting lineup, so if he knows anything about how his team could fair best against Washington’s killer starting 5, he certainly is not sharing it with us. Will Amir Johnson make his return to the rotation or will Stevens continue to play small and start Gerald Green to maximize talent on the floor? Coach Stevens decided that is a question that won’t be answered until Game 1 tips off.
Fans can look forward to a hard-played series between two teams with a palpable distaste for one another. From Smart and Wall exchanging shots in post game pressers to the “Funeral Game” in which the Wizards players wore all black to the arena to feign respect for their opponents’ prospective demise, mutual dislike between the two is well documented. Don’t be surprised to see that animosity manifest itself on the floor in Game 1.
This series could very well come down to who gets stops first. If Brad Beal and John Wall are able to score in the 25 point range on a nightly basis and Kelly Oubre’s defense has developed enough to disrupt Isaiah Thomas’ explosive offense, it might spell doom for the 1-seed Celtics. Conversely, if Boston is able to get in the paint with relative ease and distribute to open shooters, it could be tough for the Wizards to hang around with their starters off the court.
It is shaping up to be a killer conference semifinals. Grab your popcorn and enjoy the ride.