What a difference a month makes. No one wants to face the Washington Wizards (8) right now after a late-season surge where they went 17-6 and seized the #8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs to secure a spot in the play-in tournament against the downtrodden Boston Celtics (7) in the Seven-Eight game.
The Celtics limp into the playoffs without their second-best scorer Jaylen Brown, but the Wizards aren’t without their own injury concerns. Bradley Beal, the NBA’s second-best scorer, tweaked his hamstring last week and he’s not 100%.
|NBA Play-in Tournament: East Seven-Eight Game|
|Washington Wizards (34-38) at Boston Celtics (36-36)|
- Tip-off: 6:00pm PT
- Location: TD Garden, Boston, MA
- Point Spread: BOS -2
- Total: 233 o/u
- Moneyline: WAS +115 / BOS -130
The teams in the Seven-Eight Game need only one victory to secure a playoff berth, but get two chances to win one game. The winner of the East’s Seven-Eight Game locks up the #7 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and will face the #2 seed Brooklyn Nets in the opening round.
The loser of the Seven-Eight Game will play the winner of the Nine-Ten Game (either the Indiana Pacers or Charlotte Hornets) for a chance at securing the #8 seed in the East. The #8 seed faces the #1 seed Philadelphia 76ers in the opening round.
Betting the Celtics/Wizards
The Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics met three times this season, with the Celtics taking the series 2-1. All three games occurred at the start of the season.
The Wizards posted the fourth-best against the spread record with a 41-30-1 ATS clip, while the Celtics struggled to beat the spread with a 33-38-1 ATS record. If you like to bet NBA totals, the Celtics were 37-35 at hitting the over this season and the Wizards were 36-36.
The high-octane Wizards crank out 116.6 ppg with the third-most potent offense in the NBA. They finished four games below .500 due to their porous defense that allows a league-worst 120.2 ppg. If you’re going to beat the Wizards, you better be ready to run and gun, because the Wizards boast the NBA’s highest pace at 104.67.
The Celtics are stuck in the middle of the pack averaging 112.6 ppg (ranked #16) and their defense allows 111.5 ppg (ranked #15).
According to a recent update by DraftKings, the Celtics are +5000 odds to win the 2021 NBA championship. The Wizards are one of the long shots at +25000 odds to win the title.
Washington Wizards: The Westbrook and Beal show
Beal lit up the Celtics this season, averaging 40.6 ppg, including a 46-point effort in a one-point loss at the end of February in which the Wizards were robbed by a no-call from the zebras. The Celtics are lucky that a hamstring injury will slow Beal down.
“I feel good and not as sore as I thought I would be,” added Beal. “I’m not as beat-up as I thought.”
Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double this season with 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 11.7 assists per game. Westbrook recently passed Oscar Robertson on the all-time NBA triple-double list.
“We fought through so much to get here,” said Westbrook. “Nobody believed that we’d be here. And it’s only up from here.”
Westbrook had an insane month to close out the season. He averaged 26.3 points, 16.1 assists, and 13.8 rebounds per game in April during the Wiz’s surge.
“These last X-number of games have been like playoff games and that prepares you,” said head coach Scott Brooks.
The Wizards went on a run despite losing two starters to season-ending injuries, including center Thomas Bryant (ACL) and rookie Deni Avdija (ankle).
Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum time
The Celtics ended the season with a 5-10 record and lost Brown to season-ending wrist surgery. Brown posted career numbers this season (24.7 ppg) and the Celtics will be rudderless without him.
“Obviously, it’s a place where we didn’t expect ourselves to be, but we’re here,” said Marcus Smart. “So we’ve got to deal with it and deal with what’s in front of us. Everybody gets an opportunity to start over. We’ve got to go out there and take advantage of it.”
Jayson Tatum posted a couple of epic games this season, including the night he erupted for a career-high 60 points to tie Larry Bird for the franchise record. If Tatum doesn’t jack up 50 or more points, the Celtics will have to rely on their inexperienced bench. They have a couple of young guns like Payton Pritchard (7.7 ppg), Carsen Edwards (4.0 ppg), and Romeo Langford (3.1 ppg), but the trio lacks postseason experience.
Kemba Walker played through multiple injuries this season, but this is the reason he left Charlotte and signed with the Boston Celtics for an opportunity to throw down in the playoffs.
Center Robert Williams missed time with a turf toe injury. He’s listed as a game-time decision.
Check out more coverage of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.