at TD Garden, 7:30 p.m. | CSN, WEEI (850 AM)
PAYNE'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Reason to Respond: After suffering through a difficult 97-81 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, the last thing the Celtics need is another uninspired loss to the 21-57 Washington Wizards, who currently boast a 3-36 record on the road. With four games remaining on the regular-season schedule, will the Celtics start to put some momentum together heading into the postseason, or will they lead with their inconsistent play for a second consecutive night? A throttling of the Wizards would seem like the appropriate response to Thursday's defeat, but given the way the Celtics have played lately, nothing is guaranteed.
Rondo's Recovery: Derrick Rose stole some of Rajon Rondo's thunder on Thursday, as their head-to-head battle became more and more one-sided as the night went on. Rondo, though, will have a chance to redeem himself tonight against another of the NBA's top young point guards in John Wall. Wall didn't play the first time the Wizards visited Boston back on November 17, but when these two teams met in Washington back on Jan. 22, Wall finished with 16 points, six rebounds, and four assists, on top of hitting a 3-pointer off the glass in the final minutes to help seal an 85-83 Wizards victory. In two games against Washington this season, Rondo's averaged 12.5 points and 11.0 assists.
Bench Consistencies: The Celtics may have finally found a second unit that works. The five-man unit of Delonte West, Ray Allen, Jeff Green, Glen Davis, and Nenad Krstic has played exceptionally well in Boston's last two games, and was a big part of the Celtics' first-half comeback against the Bulls on Thursday. Maintaining a level of consistency is always crucial for a second unit, and this last stretch of games should serve as a great opportunity for this group to continue develop that all-important chemistry that will prove to be crucial throughout the playoffs.
GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
The Wizards (21-57), who defeated Boston 85-83 at home Jan. 22, close out their home schedule Monday against the Celtics.
In the teams' last matchup in Boston, the Celtics won 114-83 on Nov. 17 with Paul Pierce leading six players in double figures with 23 points. It is tied for the Celtics' most lopsided home win this season.
Washington, loser of five of seven in Boston, is a league-worst 3-36 on the road. Coach Flip Saunders' team, however, has gotten two of those wins in its last three contests outside the nation's capital.
The Wizards, though, enter this contest following one of their worst defensive efforts of the season, a 136-112 loss at Indiana on Wednesday. It was the most points allowed by Washington since a 144-139 overtime win at Phoenix on Dec. 22, 2006.
"Energy caught up to us," Saunders said after his team's season-best three-game winning streak was snapped. "I was worried before the game. Guys just didn't seem to have that pep in their step. We almost really lost the game in the first seven minutes."
The Wizards are allowing a league-worst 109.4 points per game on the road. Boston is shooting 57.9 percent from the field, including 11 of 21 from 3-point range, in winning its last two home games.
Wizards rookie point guard John Wall will play his first game in Boston after missing the Nov. 17 matchup with a sprained left foot. The No. 1 overall pick had 16 points, six rebounds and four assists Jan. 22.
Read the full preview HERE.