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Wizards-Celtics preview: Who's on point?


Wizards-Celtics preview: Who's on point?

Matchup: Washington Wizards (6-6) at Boston Celtics (8-7)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. (TV: CSN, CSNMidatlantic.com via NBC Sports Live Extra) 

When last we met: Twice this season Wizards point guard John Wall committed a season-high eight turnovers. The first time occurred Nov. 6 in Boston as the Celtics hammered the Wizards 118-98 despite 24 points from Bradley Beal.

Streaks: Washington lost its last two games by at least 14 points. Considering the Wizards led by nine points with nine minutes, it's stunning they lost 101-87 to Charlotte Wednesday night. Scoring six points in the final quarter will swing a result. ...The Celtics' last game also involved a fourth-quarter comeback as they went from 11 points down to defeating the winless Philadelphia 76ers 84-80. Boston had lost three of four.

Three things to watch

Get a grip: The Celtics might not be the best team for John Wall to face in the midst of turnover woes. Including the first meeting this season, Wall is averaging 7.0 over his last four games against Boston. This season, his 4.5 turnovers per game represents a career-worst while his current average of 7.9 assists is clearly off from last season's career-best of 7.9. The season is early, but the frustration may be building. Contending with Avery Bradley, one of the top defensive guards in the league, won't make life any easier.

The IT guy: Boston's roster, while deep an versatile, lacks a superstar, a transcendent talent along the lines of Larry Bird or Paul Pierce. What they may have this season is an All-Star guard in Isaiah Thomas, who has flourished with the Celtics since coming over from in a trade with the Suns last season. In 15 games this season, the former second-round pick is averaging a career-best 21.2 points with 6.1 assists and 1.5 steals. The 5-foot-9 sparkplug is also finding his rhythm from distance. Over his last four games, Thomas is shooting 41.3 percent (12 of 29) on 3-point tries.

The Real Neal: Whatever is going on with the Wizards, Gary Neal's offense isn't too blame. Over the last two games, the veteran wing guard is averaging 20.5 points on 55.5% shooting (15 of 27) from the field including 7 of 11 from beyond the 3-point arc. 

MORE: Morning tip: Wizards' stars unraveling after just 12 games?

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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