Tonight's game should be a layup for the Wizards (20-20) and get them over .500 for the first time this late in a season since 2008. Should be. Yes, as any coach would say, the Boston Celtics are an NBA team and are capable of beating anyone. Center Marcin Gortat doesn't want to hear it. Losing at Verizon Center to losing teams is unacceptable.
"Even though we're playing better on the road … we've got to learn to play at home. We've got to start winning at home. If we're talking about playoffs, if we're talking about winning in playoffs, you can't lose games at home," Gortat said. "Second of all, we can't disappoint our fans. That's ridiculous. You have teams like Milwaukee or Philly coming here and punking us right in front of our own crowd, that's not fun at all. You feel embarrassed.
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"You've got fans coming up to you in the street and telling you, 'You played well. You guys looking good'. You know exactly that they're trying to be nice. In the back of your head you know you embarrassed yourself a few days before. You just cant disappoint the fans. They come here to watch us play, coming to watch basketball at the highest level. They pay a lot of money for tickets."
Gortat is alluding to the overtime loss to Bucks on Dec. 6, when the Wizards were 9-9 and seemed to be a shoo-in to win. Monday, they almost blew a 21-point lead to the 76ers but held on to win. They've won three of four games at home after beginning 2014 with an 0-4 mark. They're back to 10-10 at Verizon as the Boston Celtics play here for the first time this season, with an All-Star caliber point guard (Rajon Rondo) still on a minutes restriction and missing their starting shooting guard (Avery Bradley) and backup guard (Jerryd Bayless).
They signed Vander Blue, an undrafted rookie, from the D-League to a 10-day contract late Tuesday night. The Celtics (14-29) have lost 11 of 12 games since the new year by an average of 11.5 points per game.
This will be the fourth chance for Washington, which has failed after being 9-9, 14-14 and 19-19, to seize a winning record in front of the home crowd.
"It'll probably boost it sky high," Bradley Beal said of the Wizards' confidence if they're able to achieve a winning record before going on a four-game West coast road swing that starts Friday. "This is our fourth time getting there. We've had opportunities to do so and we've got a great opportunity."
Coach Randy Wittman issues a cautionary tale about playing wounded Boston: "We've proven when we don't play we can get beat by anybody. There's doesn't need to be anything said. When we don't play or come to play, we don't play very good and we don't compete. We get beat. Bottom line."