Not only are the Boston Celtics better than anyone expected with a first-year coach in Brad Stevens, they're flourishing with Wizards castoff Jordan Crawford as the starting point guard. And John Wall is prepared for him.
"I know how he is. I know how he likes to play," said Wall, who played with Crawford for three seasons until he was traded late last season, on Friday. "He's an aggressive person that likes to score the ball. You got to go out there and play your game the same way and not make it into a one-on-one matchup."
Crawford was shipped for virtually nothing by the Wizards (11-13), who were eager to get rid of a locker room distraction for little-used center Jason Collins. Crawford, however, was known for his shooting -- not ball distribution.
"No, not really," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said when asked if he was surprised by Crawford's evolution into a point guard. "They've got two guys, he and (Avery) Bradley, taking turns with the ability to play that position. He's shown here at times being able to do that. He has had triple-doubles here. We know the ability that Jordan has."
The Celtics (12-15) are first place in the Atlantic Division, which has every team under .500. Despite that anomaly, they're doing better than anyone projected after trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Rajon Rondo, who tore a knee ligament last season, has yet to play.
"They've got a young coach come in there that's done a good job. With the changes that have happened there with Garnett and Pierce and Rondo being hurt, it's a team that plays as team," Wittman said. "Jeff Green, Crawford and Bradley, (Jared) Sullinger, guys off the bench, there's not one particular guy or two guys you got to focus in on. That makes it hard. We've got to go in there focused. We're playing a one o'clock game and have a chance to end the week on a good note."
The Wizards are 2-0 this week, with road wins vs. the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets.