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Wizards conclude homestand Monday night against Celtics
The Wizards (11-24) conclude their six-game homestand Monday night, taking on the Boston Celtics (25-8) at 7:00 P.M. Both teams are coming off Friday-Saturday back-to-backs: Boston earned wins over Atlanta and Chicago while Washington dropped their matchup with Portland before a win over Denver on Saturday night.
Bradley Beal will not play as he continues to work back from lower right leg soreness.
Capital One Arena | 7:00 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Isaiah Thomas, G – Gary Payton II, G – Jordan McRae, F – Isaac Bonga, C – Ian Mahinmi
Celtics: G – Marcus Smart, G – Jaylen Brown, F – Gordon Hayward, F – Jayson Tatum, C – Daniel Theis
Wizards: Bradley Beal (lower right leg soreness – out), Davis Bertans (right quad strain – out), Thomas Bryant (right foot stress reaction – out), Rui Hachimura (groin injury – out), Ian Mahinmi (right finger injury – available), C.J. Miles (left wrist surgery – out), Moritz Wagner (left ankle sprain – out), John Wall (left Achilles rehab – out)
Celtics: Romeo Langford (illness – out) Vincent Poirier (right pinkie fracture – out), Kemba Walker (illness – out), Robert Williams (left him, bone edema – out)
Wizards, Celtics adjusting without backcourt stars
Both the Wizards and Celtics have played the last two games without their premier backcourt stars. Washington has been without Bradley Beal for four of the last five games, including both games of their home back-to-back on Friday and Saturday, as he nurses lower right leg soreness. Wizards head coach Scott Brooks continues to stress that he does not believe the injury is serious and that Washington hopes to have Beal back in the lineup soon. Boston’s Kemba Walker (illness), who leads the team in points (22.5) and assists (5.2) per game, also missed games on Friday and Saturday night when the Celtics took on the Hawks and Bulls and will not play Monday against the Wizards.
The Celtics, one of the deepest teams in the league, particularly on the perimeter, haven’t missed a beat in Walker’s absence, earning wins over both Atlanta and Chicago. The Wizards, on the other hand, despite a week of historic bench performances, are a completely different team when Beal is on the court – especially against the Celtics. Beal has scored 25-plus points in six of his last 11 games against Boston, including one of his best games of 2019-20 in the teams’ only prior meeting this season. Beal scored 44 points on 17-27 (.630) from the field and 4-6 (.667) from 3-point range to go along with six assists and five rebounds when the teams met on November 13.
Wizards bench stays hot
The Wizards rotating reserve unit enters Monday’s game coming off the best week-long stretch in team history. The run started last week against the Miami Heat, when 29 points from Jordan McRae propelled the Wizards bench to 80 points, a franchise record that stood for less than a week. The Wizards followed up the performance with a 57-point bench showing against the Magic and 76-point game against the Blazers on Friday night. Each of those performances, however, paled in comparison to the historic display of bench scoring Saturday night against Denver. Led by a career-high 32 points from Ish Smith, the Wizards reserves combined for 92 points, the second-most in NBA history since 1970-71, when the league began recording starters and bench players and the most since 1977 when the Warriors scored 94 bench points in a game (per Elias Sports Bureau).
Troy Brown Jr., who also came off the bench against Denver, played one of his best game of the season, scoring 25 points and grabbing a career-high 14 rebounds. Some of Brown Jr. best games this season have come off the bench, including three of his four 20-point performances. Brown Jr. has scored 10-plus points in the last nine games he has come off the bench, and 20-point performances in two of his last four games as a reserve.“I would just say with the second unit I’m able to be more aggressive, and I’m able to make plays for everybody,” Brown Jr. said after his performance against Denver. “I’m able to make sure there is more movement and stuff like that. It really doesn’t really matter for me, it’s just who is on the floor.”
Celtics winning with consistency and balance
Coming into Monday night’s game, the Celtics hold the second-best record in the Eastern Conference and the third-best in the entire league. Through 33 games, they are one of just four teams to rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating, joining the Bucks, Lakers and Clippers. Boston has won eight of its last nine games, five of which have come by at least 10 points, in a run that started with a road win over the Dallas Mavericks.
In those nine games, young wings Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have led the way for Boston, each averaging over 23.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game – particularly in the last two games without Kemba Walker. On Friday, Brown led the way for the Celtics, going for 24 points on 8-13 (.615) from the field and 10 rebounds. On Saturday, Tatum carried the load, scoring a team-high 28 points on 12-15 (.800) shooting and grabbing seven rebounds. Even as the Walker sits on Monday, the Wizards will have their hands full as they try to slow down the versatile, multi-faceted Celtics offense.