Wednesday night’s game five might have been the best game that the Celtics have played all season. With a 3-2 lead in the series, they go to Washington tonight looking to knock out the Wizards and advance to their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2012. Here are a few things I am going to be looking for from in tonight’s game:
Can Avery Bradley show up on the road? Bradley was great in game five, dropping a career-high 29 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 3 assists. In home games against the Wizards this post-season, he’s averaging 20.3 points on 47% shooting and 2.3 steals. However, this high level of play has not followed him on the road during this series. In the two games in Washington, he is averaging just 6 points on 29% shooting and no steals. His scoring has been a key factor in the three games Boston has won against Washington. He needs to continue to take some of the scoring load off of IT’s shoulders.
Will John Wall and Bradley Beal continue to struggle? In game five, John Wall and Bradley Beal were completely irrelevant. Wall finished with 21 points, but he didn’t look like himself. He was caught falling asleep on defense, he struggled to finish around the rim and he finished with a post-season low 4 assists. Beal also finished the game with just 16 points on 19 shots and was a non-factor in the game. The Wizards’ backcourt has been great at home during this post-season, so I expect them to come into tonight’s game looking to shove it down the Celtics’ throats early.
Al Horford must continue playing like a max player. Horford has been the Celtics most consistent player during these playoffs. He’s averaging 16.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.6 assists this series against the Wizards. To go along with those numbers, he is shooting 69.4% from the field and 58.8% from three. Horford has been the missing piece to this team’s success, and I’m glad he is proving it on the biggest stage. His experience and leadership have been the key to Boston’s success all playoffs.
Isaiah Thomas can’t disappear like he did in game four. In the first half of game four, I thought IT was going to go off like he did back in game two. But once the second half rolled around, he was a non-factor and wasn’t getting many looks on offense. If the Celtics are going to win tonight’s game, everyone needs to show up, but it starts with Isaiah Thomas getting into a consistent rhythm early.
Road teams are 10-0 in close-out games this post-season. While a road team is yet to win a game in this series, I think the Celtics are going to end that trend tonight. They looked really good in the first half of the last game in Washington. If they can build on that, along with how great they played in game five, the Celtics will be advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals.
(all stats are from nba.com/stats)
Written By: Nick Cherico (@NickCherico2)