2017 Hoops Inq. Playoff Preview: Celtics (1) - Wizards (4)

2017 Hoops Inq. Playoff Preview: Celtics (1) - Wizards (4)

Series Schedule:

Game 1: Sunday, 4/30 @ Boston
Game 2: Tuesday, 5/2 @ Boston
Game 3: Thursday, 5/4 @ Washington
Game 4: Sunday, 5/7 @ Washington
Game 5 (if necessary): Wednesday, 5/10 @ Boston
Game 6 (if necessary): Friday, 5/12 @ Washington
Game 7 (if necessary): Monday, 5/15 @ Boston

Regular Season Series Results:

The teams split the regular season series 2-2, and the home team won every game.

Players To Watch:

Boston Celtics:

Jonas Jerebko: Although Gerald Green will remain the starter for Boston heading into Game 1, there's a good chance Jerebko will end the series as the starter. He matches up well with Markieff Morris, and his defense allows him to be more useful in the Celtics' "switch-everything" defensive scheme. He can do all of this while still stretching the floor. The Swedish Larry Bird's versatility has a habit of becoming most useful when needed, so look to him to get more burn in more versatile lineups even if he doesn't end up starting. Washington's bench is weak, so Jerebko can capitalize on that.
Jae Crowder: Crowder started the first round pretty terribly on offense, and the Celtics as a collective suffered as a result (along with a host of other issues that plagued the team). As the series progressed, he upgraded to serviceable and then even made a return to his regular season form. Boston needs this Crowder against Washington; they're not good enough to beat the Wizards without Crowder's shooting. Although he can't create well off the dribble, Crowder's offense will be vital to the Cs' plan.
Marcus Smart: Smart was a pleasant surprise for Boston on the offensive end in the first round. Although he didn't put up big offensive numbers, his shooting numbers increasing was a valuable asset. Surprisingly, he was fifth on the team in 3-point percentage (38%). His passing and overall game were crucial to decimating the Chicago bench, and he played starter minutes in practically all six games. If he can continue out-performing his regular season numbers, the Celts will be in a good position. His defense on John Wall and Bradley Beal will be essential, especially as the Celtics go to the IT-and-D lineup down the stretch to finish games.

Washington Wizards: 

Otto Porter Jr.: In the first regular season matchup, Otto Porter Jr. annihilated Boston across the board. He posted a career-high 34 points and 14 rebounds, and the Celtics had no answer. If this Porter Jr. shows up at any time in the series, pencil Washington for a win. If he plays anywhere near that level consistently, the Wizards will make short work of Boston. Especially down the stretch when Smart and Avery Bradley will be guarding Wall/Beal and the Cs try to hide Isaiah Thomas on Porter Jr., he is going to need to eat on offense to propel Washington.
Kelly Oubre Jr.: The Wizards' bench unit is pretty terrible. Boston has the clear advantage here, and depth might actually be the turning point for the series since Washington's starters only have a slight edge over Boston's (though, that's harder to measure with Gerald Green being in the lineup now). Oubre Jr. played a big role in the Game 1 win against Atlanta, and when he plays well, the Wizards tend to play well. To fight Boston's superior bench, the Wiz are gonna need Oubre to play at his best at every opportunity.
John Wall: There's John Wall, and then there's playoff John Wall. Playoff John Wall is angry, and he's going to be looking for blood in this second round series. Wall destroyed the Hawks in the first round, averaging 29.5 points and 10.3 assists. He peaked with a 42-point masterpiece in the series-clinching Game 6. Isaiah Thomas can't guard him, though not many people can. If Wall can continue to score at this level in combination with his usual passing *puts on shades* wizardry, Washington will be hard-pressed to lose. Wall is going to get his; Washington winning will be determined based on if they can score off of Wall's passes.

Celtics-Wizards is going to be a bloodbath, and it will be glorious. There's obvious tension between these two teams from "Boopgate" to the "Funeral Game." There will likely be a litany of technicals assessed in this series. This is one of the more unlikely rivalries in the NBA, but ever since the Celtics stole Al Horford (who was picking between the two teams) last summer, this matchup has been in the works. John Wall is definitely the best player in this series, but Isaiah Thomas isn't far behind him. The Wizards starters are better than Boston's starters, but Boston's bench is better than Washington's bench. Isaiah Thomas can't guard John Wall, but John Wall can't guard Isaiah Thomas (go check the film). These are two evenly matched teams, and this series is going the distance. The team with less ejections will definitely win (probably). The edge in the prediction is going to the home team since this series is definitely going 7 games. The Wizards are going to put up a battle, but Boston's depth and versatility will slightly push them forward. Celtics in 7.