After Thursday night's tough loss at the hands of the Chicago Bulls, the Celtics no longer have to concern themselves with the top seed in the Eastern Conference, as they now trail Chicago by four games with four left to play. With that in mind, taking care of business so as to assure the No. 2 seed should be of the utmost importance and their first step in that regard comes Friday night with a home game against the lowly Washington Wizards at 7:30 p.m. EDT, on Comcast Sports Net New England.
The Celts (54-24) need to start building a bit of momentum with the playoffs just over a week away and the Wizards, with their 3-36 road record, look like a perfect opponent against whom to do just that. The C's torched Washington on Nov. 17 by the final count of 114-83 and although they dropped their last meeting with the Wizards (21-57), that one came at the Verizon Center in downtown D.C. In that 30-point bludgeoning, Paul Pierce led six Celtics in double figures with 23 points. The Wizards allow a league worst 109.4 points per game on the road while the C's, in winning their last two at the Garden, have shot 57.9 percent from the floor, including 11-of-21 from 3-point range.
The Wizards, who lost 136-112 to playoff bound Indiana in Wednesday night, have a couple of highlights against the C's this season. In their 85-83 win in Washington on Jan. 22, rookie point guard John Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft, posted 16 points, six rebounds and four assists. It will be up to Rajon Rondo to slow down Wall; Rondo has put up 12.5 points and 11 assists against Washington so far this year.
In Thursday night's loss to the Bulls, the Celtics, 8-9 over the last month, shot just 38.4 percent and were outrebounded 44-35 in failing to capitalize on any momentum generated from their wins over Detroit and Philly on Sunday and Tuesday. They face their direct competition for that No. 2 seed on Sunday afternoon in Miami but given that they and the Heat are currently locked up with identical records, they can't afford to overlook the Wizards.