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Wizards and Celtics clash on Christmas Day
The Wizards face the Celtics for the first time since last year's postseason in this Christmas Day special.
TD Garden | 5:30 p.m. | ABC | 1500 AM
Wizards (18-15): G - Wall, G - Beal, F - Porter Jr., F - Morris, C - Gortat
Celtics (27-9): G - Irving, G - Brown, F - Tatum, F - Horford, C - Baynes
Wizards: Sheldon Mac (Achilles - Out)
Celtics: Gordon Hayward (Ankle - Out), Marcus Morris (Knee - TBD), Shane Larkin (Knee - Questionable)
The NBA on Christmas Day, a timeless tradition, has developed into a wonderful spectacle for basketball fans across the globe to enjoy. Only a handful of teams are fortunate enough to play on this day and the Wizards were lucky enough to be selected this year. These two franchises met once before on Christmas, 52 years ago back in 1965, a 113-99 win for the C's over the Baltimore Bullets. This will be the Wizards first time playing on Christmas since 2014, when they beat the Knicks in New York. The Wiz are 15-7 all-time playing on Christmas, while the Celtics are 14-16 playing on this holiday. Of the 30 games the Celtics have played on Christmas, tonight's game will be the first one ever played in Boston. The Celtics beat the Knicks on Christmas Day last year, 119-113 in New York.
First Meeting Since Playoffs
Not only will this be hyped up because of the holiday and the national broadcast, but this will also be the first time these two teams will have met since Game 7 of last year's Eastern Conference semifinals, an epic seven game series that saw the home team win all seven games. While the Celtics have a completely different looking team, there will certainly be some feelings felt, likely more on Washington's side, when they step foot back in TD Garden. The Wiz will likely put out the same starting five from that series last May and all five of them will certainly remember that their season ended last spring in Boston. Tonight is just the first of four games the two teams will play this season, but with tonight being the first one, it will have a little extra meaning. For Boston, they returned a few key guys from that series, but they made major roster moves over the summer and are now led by their new point guard Kyrie Irving. The John Wall - Kyrie Irving layer simply adds a new twist to this already contentious matchup. Besides Irving, the Celtics also added Marcus Morris, twin brother of Markieff, and this will be the first time these two face off as members of the Wizards and Celtics. The Celts did return Al Horford, who continues to be a big part of their frontcourt, and they've seen a big jump in production from Jaylen Brown, who was on last year's team but now plays a much bigger role as a starter. Brown, along with rookie Jayson Tatum, gives Boston some long wings who can make things difficult on both ends of the floor. There will be a number of fun individual matchups to watch, but the Wizards will need to score in transition against on of the league's top defensive teams.
Chance to Make Statement
The Celtics have had quite the first two months of the season. They lost their All-Star forward Gordon Hayward in the first game of the season, lost their first two games of the season, and then managed to roll off 16 straight wins to establish themselves as a top team in the East. They've cooled down since that start, and are just 5-5 over their last 10, but they still enter tonight's game atop the East. They are one of the teams to beat in the conference, and the team that did beat the Wizards last year in the playoffs, so for a team trying to take off like Washington, there really will be no better opportunity than tonight to try and build some momentum for this season. It's been an inconsistent start for the Wizards, as they enter tonight at 18-15, with a bunch of quality wins, but also some ugly losses that can't really be well explained. With all that said, they are only one game behind the four seed in the East and with plenty of season left, there is still time for them to jump back into a top spot in the conference. A win tonight could certainly go a long way in helping to get the Wizards right again in 2017-18.
Up next, the Wizards head to Atlanta to take on the other team they saw last postseason, the Hawks. (7:30 p.m.)