Washington Wizards vs. Boston Celtics Preview and Pick

Washington Wizards (19-16) +12, 185 at Boston Celtics (30-5), 7:30 pm Eastern Monday
by Zman of Predictem.com

The Boston Celtics may own the best record in the NBA at the moment, but they’ll have to try to heat up a bit after going through their coldest stretch of this season when they host the Washington Wizards Monday night on the back end of a home-and-homer in Beantown.

NBA betting boards list Boston as 12-point home favorites for Monday’s game. But while the total started out at 183, early action has pushed it up to as much as 185 at some outlets. Also, the Celtics are listed at around -900 on various moneylines, with Washington getting around +700 as road underdogs.

Boston had won nine games in a row before falling at home to Charlotte last Wednesday 95-83. The Celtics then won at New Jersey Friday, but lost at Washington Saturday 85-78. So in losing two of its last three games, Boston has averaged 82 points and gotten out-rebounded all three games.

Still, the Celtics lead the Atlantic Division by 11 games over the second-place Toronto Raptors.

The Wizards have won two straight games and four of their last five after beating Boston Saturday night, despite shooting just 37% from the field. But they held the Celts to a season-low in points on 41% shooting and out-boarded Boston 49-30.

Since starting this season 0-5, Washington has gone 19-11 and sits in second place in the Southeast Division, two games back of the first-place Orlando Magic.

Both of these teams have been very good to their financial backers so far this season. The Wizards are 22-13 against the spread, the Celtics 22-11. Also, Washington is 8-8 straight up and a very nice 11-5 vs. the numbers on the road, while Boston is 16-2 SU and 11-7 ATS at home.

The Wizards had beaten the Celtics four straight times coming into this season, but that was, of course, before Boston picked up Kevin Garnett. The Celts then beat Washington in the first meeting between these two teams this season 103-83 back on Nov. 2. So the teams have split their two games so far this year, and both games have stayed under their totals by averaging just 175 total points.

In those two games this season, Boston has shot a combined 45% from the field as a team, while the Wizards have shot just 36%.

The Celtics rank #1 in the league this season in per-game point differential at +11.6, scoring defense at 87 ppg and FG defense at 41%. Meanwhile, Washington ranks 11th in point differential at +2.5 per game and 6th in FG defense at 44%. And while the Wizards allowed 105 ppg last season, they’ve cut that to 97 ppg this season.

Washington is shooting 45% from the floor as a team this season, 34% from 3-point range and 80% from the free-throw line. On the other end of the court, Boston is shooting 47% from the floor, 38% from beyond the arc and 77% from the line.

Also, the Celtics rank 2nd in the league in rebounding at +3 per game, while the Wiz ranks 5th at +2.1 boards per game.

On the injury front, Boston G Rajon Rondo missed Saturday’s game with a bad back, and he’s listed as doubtful for Monday’s game at scoresandodds.com.

On the other side of this match-up, Washington is still playing without G Gilbert Arenas, who blew a knee back in mid-November and won’t be back until March at the soonest. But while the Wizards were 3-5 in those first eight games this season with the Hibachi, they’re 16-11 without him.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com rank the Celtics #1 at 100.9, Washington 14th at 91.5. The current Sagarin home-court advantage figure is 2.7.

The o/u is 16-19 in Wizards games this season, which are averaging 196 total points, while the totals are 14-20 in Boston games, which are averaging 186 points.

Zman’s Pick: Take Washington +11.5.