The Washington Wizards are very much alive in their Eastern Conference second-round series with the Boston Celtics. They might even be the right NBA pick for Game 5 Wednesday.
I love it when a plan comes together. The Washington Wizards have all their players back now that Ian Mahinmi is in the lineup; the Boston Celtics were up against it in the first round against the Chicago Bulls until Rajon Rondo broke his thumb. Put those two together, and we figured the Wiz would be the right choice in Game 4 of their second-round series with Boston.
So it was written, so it came to pass. Washington thumped the Celtics 121-102 as 5-point home faves, evening their series at 2-2 heading into Wednesday’s Game 5 (8:00 p.m. ET, TNT). With this series heading back to the Garden, Boston is a 4.5-point chalk on the NBA odds board as we go to press; that’s up from -4 at the open, with our consensus reports showing two-thirds of early bettors on the C’s. Looks like that pesky Zigzag Theory might be at work again.
Let’s get those baseline expectations in order first. FiveThirtyEight has Boston -3 as its Elo-based projection for Wednesday’s game, so yeah, the market wants to zig. I’m pretty sure we’re going to zag and stick with the Wizards for our NBA picks. These projections won’t have fully accounted for Mahinmi’s return, even if his role has been limited since coming off the injured list.
Ian Mahinmi told me he is still not 100% but feeling better everyday and happy about two days off before and after Game 4.— Neil Dalal (@NeilDalal96) May 8, 2017
But let’s take a moment to look at the total, too. We’re looking at 215 points for Game 5, up a hair from 214 points in Sunday’s matchup – but also down from the first two games in Boston, both of which went 'over':
Game 1: 216.5 points
Game 2: 219 points
Welp, 215 points is still a pretty fat total, but this might not be the best time to go 'under'; the Wiz have been killing Boston on the glass now that they’ve got all their big men in action, and they haven’t wasted too many of those second-chance opportunities. Let’s stick with Washington against the spread, shall we?