(1) Boston Celtics @ (4) Washington Wizards (Celtics lead 3-2)
The Celtics triumphed in game five with a strong all-around performance in which they never really looked troubled. Up 12 after the first quarter and up 16 at half time, fuelled by Avery Bradley pouring in 25 first half points, the Celtics were comfortable 123-101 winners, whereas the Wizards looked somewhat broken.
Both teams should be at full strength for game six.
Which Washington Wizards team shows up?
Off the bench for Washington, Bojan Bogdanovic continues his very inconsistent performances. He record 6 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 22 minutes of game five, after recording 13 points on seven shots in game four, a 19 point 10 rebound double double in game three, and a complete goose egg in game two.
You never know what you will get from Bogdanovic on a nightly basis, thus making him a risky deep pick. What you do know is that whenever he is in the game, the Wizards will target him defensively. Bogdanovic thus earns his time on the court by taking and making shots, hence the variance of his output – he stays in only if he’s hitting. But when he is hitting, he is the bench scorer they otherwise lack in the backcourt.
The Wizards do continue to find it on the wings, though, as despite going up against a hostile crowd that were all very much against him, Kelly Oubre Jr again came through offensively. He took a higher-than-usual ten shots, and it is not for nothing that quite a few of them came in a fourth quarter that was not competitive; nevertheless, the defensive-minded Oubre once again scored in double figures, just as he has done in every suspension-less game of the series. In light of the high tempo, well-spaced nature of the series, cutters and runners like Oubre have their uses, and he again could contribute from a fantasy standpoint.
Gortat v Horford
So too can Marcin Gortat, who got hosed in his big man battle with Al Horford (largely because Horford in large part made it a perimeter rather than an interior battle) but whose 7 points and 11 rebounds in 25 minutes do not reflect that from a fantasy perspective. Gortat remains a consistent rebounder in a series with few others – he does not have the perimeter game of basically everybody else in the series, yet with the Celtics being a poor rebounding team, he is at least a very likely candidate for double digit boards every night.
Conversely, Horford’s 19 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks, nine total field goal attempts and three made three-pointers made for quite the all-around performance from a centre. He is pricy, and picking him somewhat sacrifices rebounding opportunities, as he is distinctly sub-par for that at this point in his career. But by any measure, that is a tasty stat-line, and not a flukish one.
The other double digit rebounder in game five was, of all people, Celtics reserve guard Marcus Smart. We have covered Smart a few times in these previews, during both this series and Boston’s first round series against the Chicago Bulls. And it is hard to know what you will get from him.
The very fact that he does so much on the court – playing aggressive defense, applying ball pressure, crashing the glass, finishing athletically, occasionally spotting up from outside and occasionally running the point – makes him valuable in the sense that he can contribute anything, yet the lack of a go-to offensive move or shot plus a tendency to find trouble and turn the ball over means he can just as easily provide nothing positive in the stats column.
But in game five, Good Marcus was on show – 9 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and a block in 26 minutes. Picking smart is a small risk due to his variance and, given his sixth man role, reasonable cost. But as the sixth man in a short rotation for a pivotal game seven, he will play, and he will attack everything he does. Hope for good results.
Whose Bradley will perform?
As mentioned above, Avery Bradley awoke from a slumber to pour in a career playoff high 29 points, 25 of which came in the first half. Bradley is never one for creating off the dribble, barrelling into the defense, breaking people off the dribble or getting to the line via any which way – he is instead a spot-picker, a selective driver and cutter, a spot-up shooter and a transition player.
These things all rely upon good team play and a slice of luck, which is not ideal from a fantasy perspective, but they are also something Bradley can control through his effort and awareness levels. And in game five, they were firing. Bradley was spry, committed and disciplined, finding open spots, whereupon the ball found him, whereupon he found the bottom of the net.
An again comparatively quiet Isaiah Thomas (18 point, 9 assists, 5-13 shooting) may be a candidate for a big scoring explosion given his status as an elite scorer and comparatively quiet streak, yet if the Wizards continue to blitz him in such a way that he gives the ball up in a bid to find the open man, Bradley will often be that open man. And Bradley is much cheaper.