Event: Boston Celtics (1-3) vs. Washington Wizards (0-3) - NBA Regular Season, Game 5.
Date/Time: Sunday, January 1, 2012 - 6:00 p.m. EDT.
Location: Verizon Center (Capacity: 20,278), Washington D.C.
Broadcast Info: Sunday's game between the Celtics and Wizards will be televised regionally on Comcast SportsNet New England, with Mike Gorman, Tommy Heinsohn and Greg Dickerson or Kyle Draper bringing you the action courtside. The game cam also be heard on the WEEI Sports Radio Network, with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell calling the game.
Odds: Boston is a 7-point favorite over Washington on New Year's Day.
Celtics Roster 2011-12: Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Marquis Daniels,Keyon Dooling, Kevin Garnett, JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Jermaine O'Neal, Sasha Pavlovic, Mickael Pietrus, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Greg Stiemsma,Chris Wilcox. Head Coach: Doc Rivers.
Wizards Roster 2011-12: Andray Blatche, Trevor Booker, Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans, Rashard Lewis, Shelvin Mack, Roger Mason Jr., JaVale McGee, Hamady Ndiaye, Kevin Seraphin, Chris Singleton, Ronny Turiaf, Jan Vesely, John Wall, Nick Young. Head Coach: Flip Saunders.
Celtics And Wizards In 2011: Boston and Washington played each other four times last season, with each team winning twice. The C's opened the season series with a 114-83 win in November before losing 85-83 in the next game. The C's beat the Wizards, 104-88, on April 8 but lost in the season series finale, 95-94, in OT on April 11.
Last Time Out: Boston defeated the Detroit Pistons, 96-85, in its home opener on Friday night. The win was the first of the lockout-shortened 66-game season for the Celtics, who made 35-of-67 field goals to shoot 52.2 percent. Jermaine O'Neal had a season-high 19 points and seven rebounds and both Ray Allen and Brandon Bass had 17 points. Paul Pierce played for the first time this season, finishing with 12 points, five assists and four rebounds in 23 minutes.
Washington was blown out by the Milwaukee Bucks, 102-81, in its last game on Friday. Jordan Crawford scored 23 points off the bench to lead the Wizards, who shot 35.3 percent in the loss. Rashard Lewis scored 14 points, JaVale McGee had 10 points and nine rebounds and John Wall totaled six points, seven assists and three blocks in defeat.
Statistical Leaders: Ray Allen is the leading scorer for the Celtics. averaging 20.0 points. Kevin Garnett averages a team-high 5.8 rebounds, Rajon Rondo averages 9.0 assists and 1.5 steals and Greg Stiemsma averages 3.5 blocks.
Nick Young is the Wizards' leading scorer, averaging 13.3 points. JaVale McGee averages a team-best 9.0 rebounds per game while John Wall leads the team in assists (6.0 APG), steals (2.3 SPG) and blocks (1.7 BPG).
Storyline: The pressure has been relieved, at least for the moment. Boston's win over Detroit in the home opener brought the worst start in the current Big Three era to a close, giving the C's their first win of the season. In victory, the Celtics looked like a completely different team -- consistent play on offense, less turnovers and good defense. Granted, they were playing the lowly Pistons, but a win is a win and you have to start somewhere.
On the other sideline, Flip Saunders and his Wizards haven't been able to experience the relief of winning a game this season, having dropped all three games they have played. Ever since the glory days with Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison ended, Washington has been stuck in rebuilding mode. While there is talent on the Wizards roster -- John Wall and JaVale McGee in particular -- they still haven't reached the point where they are consistently competitive.
Players To Watch: Paul Pierce will see action for the second time this season after a bruised right heel kept him out of training camp and the Celtics' first three games. During his absence, Sasha Pavlovic less-than-admirably filled in. Pierce impacted the C's with his return on Friday, even in limited minutes. Also keep an eye on Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, who are always key to the team's success. Brandon Bass has proven to be a strong scoring option and rebounder off the bench, and Keyon Dooling has provided sparks. For Washington, the ever-talented guard John Wall is always capable of taking over a game. JaVale McGee is a threat in the post and Rashard Lewis and Jordan Crawford can have their moments.
Prediction: This is the first game of a back-to-back against Washington, and the Celtics usually don't struggle in these games -- especially against a weak opponent like the Wizards. Monday's game will be a different story. For now, expect the Celtics to have their way. Final Score: Celtics 97, WIzards 86.