Celtics - Wizards preview: Fans still supporting C's

Celtics - Wizards preview: Fans still supporting C's
April 16, 2014, 12:45 pm
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BOSTON — A full house is expected to be on hand as the Boston Celtics close out the 2013-2014 season tonight.

Playing before a large home audience has been surprisingly normal for the Celtics in what has been one of the worst seasons in franchise history.

It has been seven years since the Celtics were this bad.

But even then, strong crowds turned out to see their beloved Celtics.

"I think they've been more patient this year," said Rajon Rondo, the lone player still with the Celtics from the 2006-2007 season. "The '06 season, they came and supported us; we still had sell-out crowds. The expectations weren't as high."

Indeed, Boston (25-56) was expected to finish with one of the NBA's worst records, a position cemented by offseason trades that were more about breaking down the present while building for the future.

Celtics fans have made it clear that they want to be along for the ride.

Boston rookie Kelly Olynyk didn't have any idea how the fans around here would react to the team losing so many games after years of being among the NBA's elite.

"We've had our struggles and they've been behind us the whole time," Olynyk said. "It's been unbelievable. They're definitely the best fans in the league considering our situation now and they're still out there. We owe it to them to play as hard as we can and try to get one for them."

Here are some keys to tonight's game:


WHAT TO LOOK FOR:  This is another game where the Celtics will be challenged to match the urgency of their opponent. A Washington win over Boston coupled with a Brooklyn loss to Cleveland, would bump the Wizards up to the No. 5 seed and play the Chicago Bulls whom they beat in two of their three matchups. As surprising as it may sound, that's a much more favorable matchup than their current No. 6 seed which would pit them against a Toronto Raptors team that won the head-to-head season series, 3-1.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kelly Olynyk vs Marcin Gortat

Coming off back-to-back games of scoring a career highs, Olynyk will have his hands full in trying to handle Gortat who has been a pain in the Celtics' you-know-what, for years.


PLAYER TO WATCH: Jeff Green

The last three games, Green has done a lot of his damage early in games. In that span, he's averaged nine points in the first quarter which ranks eighth in the NBA. So it should not come as a surprise if the Celtics look to Green for scoring early and often.


STAT TO TRACK:  Although Boston's injury-riddled frontcourt certainly tilts the big man scale in Washington's favor, the Wizards are one of the better teams in transition. They come into tonight's game averaging 15.5 fast break points per game which ranks eighth in the NBA. Meanwhile, Boston's defense allows 13.3 fast break points per game which ranks 19th in the league.