John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards battle Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford and the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of their second round series in the 2017 NBA Playoffs on Sunday afternoon.
Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch…
GAME 1: WASHINGTON WIZARDS at BOSTON CELTICS
Where: TD Garden
Tip-off: 1 p.m.
TV: ABC (coverage begins at 12 p.m. on CSN)
Live stream: ESPN.com
Radio: 1500 AM
Three things to watch...
Mahinmi remains out
Wizards head coach Scott Brooks revealed on Saturday in Boston that backup center Ian Mahinmi will remain out for at least one more game as he continues to deal with a left calf strain. The fact he is out isn't all that surprising, despite the fact Mahinmi himself expressed hope he would be back before the end of their previous series against the Hawks. That said, his absence could continue to have a profound effect on the Wizards.
That was seen in just about every game against the Hawks, as even the slightest of foul trouble for big men Markieff Morris or Marcin Gortat put them in a bind. Jason Smith is dealing with a left calf strain of his own and beyond them they are thin in their frontcourt. As long as Mahinmi remains out, any quick foul for Morris or Gortat will have Wizards fan sweating.
Can Wizards steal one?
The Wizards will play this series without the home court advantage they enjoyed in the first round against Atlanta. That means they will have to steal one on the road at some point to take control of this series.
Against the Hawks, winning on the road proved difficult until Game 6. The Wizards lost both of their first two road games and if they do that again this time around it could spell trouble as they would face an 0-2 deficit.
Thomas is dealing with a lot
The Celtics' best player, Isaiah Thomas, is going through some very tough times due to the death of his sister, Chyna, on April 15. Thomas and the Celtics were able to make it through the first round, but clearly it was not easy for Thomas who is dealing with an unimaginable loss.
Now, for Game 1, he has to also deal with a very difficult travel schedule. Thomas flew home to attend her funeral on Saturday, which took place in Washington state. He will have to fly all the way across the country to Boston for Game 1 on Sunday, which starts early at 1 p.m. That is a tough turnaround and it could conceivably affect him as he goes up against John Wall, one of the NBA's best point guards.
A devastating Game 2 loss has the Caps facing a massive 2-0 hole in the series. Here are three key observations from Saturday’s game.
1. This game was lost in the first period
The Caps dominated Pittsburgh through the first 20 minutes in every statistical category save the most important one, the score. Despite leading in shot attempts 30 to 8, shots on goal 16 to 5 and scoring chances 12 to 5 through the first, the score was still knotted at zero. The biggest difference in this series is that every time the Caps give Pittsburgh an opening, the puck ends up in the back of the net. The first period was Washington’s chance to take control and they couldn’t.
2. Was making the switch in net the right move?
Braden Holtby has now allowed six goals on 35 shots this series for a save percentage of .829. Obviously, that’s not very good. Barry Trotz made the switch to Philipp Grubauer to start the third period, but that didn’t seem to work out too well either as he allowed two goals on just eight shots finishing whatever hopes the Caps had of a comeback. Whether Trotz made the right call in taking out Holtby was a hotly debated topic among the media after the game. Look, with all due respect to Grubauer who has been great this year, the Caps cannot win the Stanley Cup if Holtby is not the backbone of the team. So what do you do? Let him try to play his way out of the slump or make the change to Grubauer and open the door for speculation as to who will start Game 3?
3. You’ve got to give it to him
Caps fans don’t want to hear this, but Sidney Crosby put on a show, declaring himself to still be the best player in the NHL. With the score tied 1-1, it was Crosby’s two assists that made the difference turning a tight game in which the Caps had dominated into a 3-1 lead for the Penguins. On the first goal, he took a pass that was a bit behind him, tapped it through his own legs to gain possession, and then fed Phil Kessel as the Caps collapsed on him. The next goal was set up by a shot-block from Crosby which he then fed to Jake Guentzel with a diving play to set up the 2-on-1 on the goal. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the guy. This was one of those games.
MORE CAPITALS: Hot start turns into disastrous finish as Caps fall 6-2