Wizards back up trash talk, bury the Celtics, 123-108

Wizards back up trash talk, bury the Celtics, 123-108

The metaphorical images of a funeral procession by the Washington Wizards players, donning all-black attire to Tuesday’s game against Boston, seemed a bit overly dramatic and over the top.

But give them credit.

When it came time to play, the Wizards backed up all that bury-the-Boston Celtics chatter with the kind of performance that absolutely put the Celtics in a game-long ditch with the night ultimately ending with Washington handing Boston a wire-to-wire loss, 123-108.


Boston (26-18) has now lost three in a row while the Wizards (25-20) extended their home winning streak to 14 in a row.

The build-up to Tuesday’s game was unlike your run-of-the-mill game in January.

Washington, still upset after their 117-108 loss at Boston on Jan. 11, took Tuesday’s game way more seriously than the Celtics with their all-black attire which was symbolic of their single-minded approach which centered around one thing – beating the Celtics.

And they did so the same way teams have found success of late against Boston.

Move the ball, set some screens and open shots will come your way against a defense which has been a huge disappointment this season.

Washington spent most of the game shooting better than 60 percent from the field, with their control of the game after the first quarter never being in doubt. They would finish shooting 57.8 percent from the field.

And when they weren’t knocking down jumpers, the Wizards were gathering their missed shots and putting them back in for easy baskets.

It was yet another reminder that the Boston Celtics’ have regressed defensively on so many levels.

Certainly not having Avery Bradley (right Achilles strain) available hurt the Celtics at both ends of the floor, especially when you consider how Boston struggled defending both John Wall and Bradley Beal who had 27 and 31 points, respectively.

The Celtics were led by Isaiah Thomas’ double-double of 25 points and 13 assists.

Boston cut Washington’s lead to 84-78 courtesy of some tough defensive plays by Marcus Smart.

But a 5-0 spurt with all the points scored by Wall, gave the Wizards a little bit more of a cushion as the third quarter came to a close.

And that spurt by Wall was fueled by a number of miscues by Boston’s young players like second-year guard Terry Rozier missing an open 3-pointer, second-year big man Jordan Mickey fumbling the ball leading to a turnover and third-year wing James Young missing a very makeable baseline jumper.

As much as Boston would love to dissect what went wrong, there’s no time for that. They return to the TD Garden to face MVP candidate James Harden and the Houston Rockets who have been in town for a couple days and will be well-rested for Wednesday night’s game.

Terry Rozier's rise should continue without Kyrie Irving

AP Photo

Terry Rozier's rise should continue without Kyrie Irving

When it comes to Western Conference powers, the casual NBA fan will immediately think of the defending champion Golden State Warriors, or the Houston Rockets who loom as their biggest threat. 

And then there’s the next-best team in the West, Portland, which has been sneaky good this season with very little fanfare. 

Boston will see first-hand just how talented the Blazers are when these two square off tonight.

Portland’s improved play of late (they’ve won 13 of their last 14 games) is fueled in large part by them taking more 3-pointers. 

Prior to Jan. 1, the Blazers averaged 24.6 three-point attempts which ranked 26th in the NBA. Since then, they have increased their 3-point attempt average to 30.5 which ranks 12th in the league.

Couple that with a defense that has been among the league’s best most of this season, and voila! – you’ve got a team that’s playing great basketball at just the right time. 

But the Celtics on many levels, while undermanned because of injuries, are still an elite team defensively.

And the one area where Boston has been strong all season, is defending the three-point shot.

Opponents are shooting a league-low 34.1 percent against Boston from 3-point range this season.

And while Boston’s defense isn’t the same when you’re talking about not having a Marcus Smart in the lineup, the Celtics are still a formidable foe at that end of the floor. 

In Boston’s last four games, all without Smart, Boston’s defensive rating is 98.8 which is good for the fourth-best in the NBA in that time period. 

“We’ve been a next man up kind of team all season,” Boston’s Semi Ojeleye told NBC Sports Boston. “That’s why it’s important to always stay ready. Because you know at some point on this team, you’re number’s going to be called and you’ll get your opportunity.”

Here are five under-the-radar story lines as the Boston Celtics seek to continue their strong play this season against Western Conference foes, at Portland. 



Terry Rozier has been a different kind of player ever since he got his first start a few weeks ago filling in for Kyrie Irving. The third-year guard has scored in double figures 20 straight games, a career first for him. In that span he has averaged 15.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 41.9 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from 3-point range.


If tonight’s game plays out as expected, points will be at a premium. Boston has the league’s top-ranked defense (101.2) even as its defensive rating has slipped to No. 5 in the league (103.1) since the all-star break. Meanwhile, the Blazers have the seventh-best defensive rating (104.3) this season, but are third (101.0) in the NBA since the all-star break.


You will be hard-pressed to find a player who wouldn’t mind a little rest with the playoffs less than a month away. But are a couple days without games too much rest? It certainly looks that way for the Celtics who are 4-6 this season with two or more days of rest before a game. The Portland Trail Blazers are at the opposite end of the success spectrum with a 10-3 record when they’ve had two days of rest before a game. 


Both Boston and Portland have been among the NBA’s better defensive rebounding teams all season. But they have each stepped up their defensive rebounding play this month. Portland, the fourth-best defensive rebounding team this season, have grabbed a league-best 83.2 percent in March while the Celtics, the sixth-best defensive rebounding team this season, are up to No. 3 (80.6 percent) this month.


Jayson Tatum is nearing the end of one of the best rookie seasons by a Boston Celtic ever, well on his way to statistically cementing himself as one of the franchise’s best first-year players ever. The 6-foot-8 forward is 35 points shy of tallying 1,000 points which would make him the ninth rookie ever to do so for Boston, with the last to do so being Ron Mercer during the 1997-1998 season.



UPDATE: Doctor thinks Irving could return in 'three to four weeks' in best-case scenario

UPDATE: Doctor thinks Irving could return in 'three to four weeks' in best-case scenario

BOSTON –  Kyrie Irving will undergo a “minimally invasive procedure” on Saturday to help alleviate the left knee soreness that has kept the five-time All-Star out for the last four games. 

On Thursday, Irving had a second opinion on his left knee and spent yesterday and today consulting with other medical officials to determine the best course of action going forward. 


While no timetable has been set for his return -- that will likely be announced following the procedure tomorrow -- Dr. Christopher Chihlas from Southcoast Health told NBC Sports Boston that Irving could return in "three to four weeks" in the best-case scenario.

Irving, acquired by Boston from Cleveland during the offseason via trade, has appeared in 60 games and has had arguably his most efficient season as a scorer in the NBA.

The 26-year-old has averaged 24.4 points per game this season while shooting a career-high 49.1 percent from the field. Irving has continued to showcase a strong game from 3-point range as well, connecting on 40.8 percent of his 3’s this season. He has also managed to get his teammates involved with a team-high 5.1 assists per game along with snatching 3.8 rebounds which is a career high.