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Big one

The Wizards haven't beaten a team with a winning record since Dec. 1 when they topped Toronto at the VC. Think about that for a minute. It sort of tells you how big this game is tonight against the Celtics, who have won 10 straight on the road including last night's 86-77 win at New Jersey.

The key tonight will be Brendan Haywood and Andray Blatche because they have the length to bother Kevin Garnett. Brendan should be fresh after not playing a lot last night and Wiz fan shouldl be curious to see whether Blatche is ready to take the next step and show that he can bring energy on back-to-back nights. Remember, Garnett was his man growing up so he should have plenty of motivation to show what he can do tonight.

One note on the Celtics: they could be without PG Rajon Rondo, who took a hard fall last night and has a bruised back. Even if he goes, I give Antonio Daniels the edge at PG. If Rondo can't go, the Celtics will sport a different look because they do not have another pure PG on the roster. Maybe Doc Rivers will suit up.

The other matchup to watch will be Caron Butler against Paul Pierce: they always go at one another. DeShawn Stevenson has really been locked in defensively of late and was at it again last night, hounding Joe Johnson all game while adding 19 points himself. The blocks Stevenson came up with on Marvin Williams and Johnson late in regulation and then in overtime were the keys to the win in my opinion. It will be interesting to see how Eddie splits DeShawn's time between Ray Allen and Pierce.

Remember, he tried using Blatche on Pierce for a spell in the Nov. 2 game at Boston and that didn't go very well. The other key stat from Boston's 103-83 win way back on Nov. 2: The Wiz missed all 16 of their three-point attempts. Haywood had a double double that night and played well. Garnett was a monster though and finished with 22 points, 20 rebounds, 5 dimes, 3 blocks and 3 steals. There is no athlete in sports that I enjoy watching in person more. If you haven't seen him up close, do so. It's hard to describe just how hard the guy plays. It's like every single game is Game 7 of the Finals.

Another key for the Wiz will be getting energy and scoring from the bench. Antawn Jamison played over 48 minutes last night, Butler played 46, Daniels played 48 and Stevenson clocked 40 and believe me as someone who had a courtside view of how hard he played, that was a tough 40. He really brought it.

By Ivan Carter  |  January 12, 2008; 3:00 PM ET
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