The Celtics haven't found the right combinations yet as they enter Friday's home game against a good Washington team on a three-game losing streak. But the C's are opening 1-point favorites on BetOnline's NBA odds with a total of 202.5.
Beal Playing At MVP Level For Wizards
I previewed Washington's home game against San Antonio on Wednesday night and recommended the Spurs -4. Well, you can't get them all right. The Wizards pulled the modest upset, 102-99 on Bradley Beal's 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds left. Beal finished with 25 points on 11-for-22 shooting while largely guarded by reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard.
John Wall finished with 17 points and 13 assists, and he and Beal combined to score Washington's final 15 points. Beal had nine points in the fourth after entering the game averaging a league-best 10.3 points per game in the final period. The Wizards outscored San Antonio 36-26 in fourth. Washington has won the fast-break battle in every game and had a 24-17 edge on San Antonio in that category. It was Washington's second straight win against the Spurs after dropping the previous 17.
Beal is averaging 25.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game and might be the East's best shooting guard right now. He is the fifth Washington player to score 100 points in the team’s first four games since the franchise moved to D.C. and first Wizards player to begin a season with four straight 20-plus point games since Gilbert Arenas did it five times in a row in 2009.
The Wizards are 2-2 against the spread on NBA odds and 2-1-1 'over/under.'
Celtics Trying To Find Right Lineup
Some experts had Boston winning the Atlantic Division over Toronto this season after the Celtics closed last year strong to reach the playoffs, albeit being swept in the first round by a vastly superior Cleveland team. It's obviously still early, but we are seeing Boston's problem: It has several good players but not really that one difference-maker or star. GM Danny Ainge keeps hoarding assets in the hopes of pulling off a James Harden-type trade like Houston did a few years ago. Keep an eye on the DeMarcus Cousins situation in Sacramento as Ainge is known to covet "Boogie."
Certainly it has been a disappointing 1-3 start for the C's. They beat awful Philadelphia in the opener before losing at home to Toronto and San Antonio -- no shame there as the Raptors and Spurs are very good teams. On Wednesday, the Celtics lost 100-98 at Indiana. Coach Brad Stevens went with three new starters in that one: guard Isaiah Thomas and forwards Amir Johnson and Jared Sullinger. All 12 of Boston's active players had entered the game by the 16-minute mark.
The coach was looking to spur a first unit that had been struggling. Thomas did his part with 27 points but Johnson had only two points with four rebounds in 21 minutes and Sullinger nine points and 11 rebounds in 27. Boston guard Avery Bradley had a chance to win the game with a 3-pointer but his attempt was partially blocked by George Hill and fell short.
Forwards David Lee and Tyler Zeller had been starting but came off the bench. Thomas, one of the betting favorites for Sixth Man of the Year, was likely only starting because point guard Marcus Smart was a late scratch with a toe injury. It's not clear what is status is for Friday as him not playing Wednesday was fairly surprising; Smart is a very good defender so he would be missed against a terrific Washington backcourt.
Boston is 1-3 against the spread on NBA picks and 2-2 'over/under.'
Boston won the first meeting 101-93 at home behind a triple-double of 13 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists from Rajon Rondo, who would be traded not long after that game. Jeff Green, who also would be traded last season, added 25 points. Wall had 17 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds for Washington, which was down 25 midway through the fourth quarter before staging a big rally. The teams played 24 hours later in D.C. and the Wizards won 133-132 in double overtime. Wall had 26 points and 17 assists for the Wiz, who blew a 23-point third-quarter lead. Boston blew a seven-point lead in the first overtime. The final meeting -- all were in December -- was a 101-88 Washington home win. It was 30-12 after one quarter and that was pretty much that.
NBA Picks: Be nice to know if Smart was playing. But even if he does, he's probably not 100 percent. Take Washington and the 'over' at BetOnline. The Wizards are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game. Boston is 0-4 ATS in its past four after a loss. The 'over' is 7-2 in the past nine meetings.