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Markieff Morris looks ahead to Christmas vs. twin brother and Celtics

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Markieff Morris looks ahead to Christmas vs. twin brother and Celtics

There were several events this past summer that forever altered the rivalry between the Wizards and Celtics, but one could argue the day of July 7 stands out above all. That's when Boston traded Avery Bradley to the Detroit Pistons for Marcus Morris and a second round pick.

Bradley didn't have a central role in the bad blood like Jae Crowder or Kelly Olynyk, who established themselves as villians to Wizards fans. But he was Boston's best answer to John Wall and Bradley Beal, a defensive stalwart who gave them fits like few others in the NBA can.

Most importantly, the acquisition of Morris put him on the opposite side of Wizards forward Markieff Morris, one of the rivalry's key characters. Now this feud that had boiled over in a contentious playoff series this past spring features twin brothers and best friends. So much for the hatred.

Soon after the trade, Markieff said the rivalry should carry on. But now, as their first matchup of the season on Christmas Day nears, he is singing a bit of a different tune.

"I'm excited to play against him. Them, I couldn't care less. It's not like the rivalry is still there. The main guys went to Cleveland, so it's going to be a little different this year," he said.

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Markieff added that the Celtics lost their "chippy guys," meaning Crowder, who was traded to the Cavs, and Olynyk who signed with the Heat. Also, Jonas Jerebko who had a dustup with Ian Mahinmi in Game 3 of their playoff series, signed with the Jazz.

Crowder had a long history of sparring with the Wizards, going back to the 2015-16 season when he got into an argument with then-Wizards coach Randy Wittman. Crowder also got into a slapping match with John Wall in January. Olynyk is famous for getting pushed to the ground by Kelly Oubre, Jr. in Game 3, an act that earned Oubre a one-game suspension.

Those three are gone and so is Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics' best player from last season. He was traded to Cleveland along with Crowder.

But remaining are Marcus Smart, who has had run-ins with the Wizards before including both Wall and Beal. There's also Terry Rozier, who was ejected from Game 3 after mixing it up with then-Wizards player Brandon Jennings.

And, of course, there's Al Horford. Surely Markieff remembers him. It was in Game 1 of that playoff series that Horford stepped under Markieff's jumpshot and sprained his left ankle. Morris retaliated in Game 2 and is still dealing with complications from that injury.

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Markieff did technically leave the door open for some fireworks.

"I don't talk trash to my brother. I guess we'll be the two that stand in and not let it happen," he said. "But if they want to keep it going, I'm all for it."

Markieff used to look forward to playing the Celtics because of the rivalry. Now, it's because he gets to be with family. Marcus hasn't seen Markieff's daughter since the day she was born in September due to their NBA commitments.

"It's going to be special, man. I'm excited because half of my family is going to be there in Boston staying at his house. He will get to spend time with his niece," Markieff said.

Markieff and Marcus have had some strange parallels this season. They each began the year injured and debuted on the same day, Nov. 3. They then missed games due to injury on Dec. 13.

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Markieff wasn't surprised by any of it.

"That's some twin s—. That's how s— usually happens," he said.

Wait, is twin s— an actual thing? Because everyone who isn't a twin has wondered that before.

"I don't know, man. Weird s— always happens, so I feel like it is real. I feel like it is," he said.

That's good to know.

Marcus remains out with a left knee injury, but is on track to return on Dec. 25, ready to play his brother. Markieff said neither of them need presents. He wishes Marcus good health and for himself: "I've already got my daughter. I'm good to go."

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NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes reveals his 2018 NBA All-Star ballot

NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes reveals his 2018 NBA All-Star ballot

The 2018 NBA All-Star starters have been announced with few surprises based on the previous updates we saw from fan voting, which account for 50 percent of the equation. The other 50 percent is split by players and media.

I had the honor of filling out one of the media ballots before the Jan. 15 deadline and in interest of transparency, here is how I voted with some brief reasoning for why:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

G Kyrie Irving, Celtics

Irving is the best player on the top team in the conference. He is scoring like he always has, but is now expanding his game under coach Brad Stevens.

G Bradley Beal, Wizards

Beal has turned into one of the best scorers in the NBA and now does so many more things. It wasn't an easy pick between him, DeMar DeRozan, John Wall and Victor Oladipo, but Beal has been so valuable to the Wizards this season with Wall missing extended time that he got the nod.

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F LeBron James, Cavs

LeBron remains the best player in basketball and is having one of his best seasons at the age of 33. It's incredible to watch and he is deserving of the most votes.

F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

Giannis is a bonafide star and is among the most versatile players in the NBA with how he can affect the game on both ends of the floor. Even without a three-point shot, he's completely unstoppable on offense.

F Joel Embiid, Sixers

Embiid is proving he can stay on the court (for the most part) and is putting up crazy numbers. Kristaps Porzingis and others got consideration for this spot, but Embiid edged them out with his rebounding.

RELATED: BROOKS FEELS GOOD ABOUT WALL AND BEAL'S ALL-STAR CHANCES

WESTERN CONFERENCE

G Russell Westbrook, Thunder

His scoring is down from last season, but Westbrook tops the NBA in assists per game and things are starting to click in Oklahoma City with him leading the way.

G James Harden, Rockets

The NBA's leading scorer, Harden is still putting up insane numbers despite co-existing with another star guard in Chris Paul. And the Rockets are really, really good.

F Kevin Durant, Warriors

The best player on the league's best team, Durant is currently fifth in points per game and tied for third in blocks. He is incredibly efficient and does so many things well.

F Anthony Davis, Pelicans

Davis continues to put up impressive numbers, but he's now more efficent than ever. The Pelicans are currently sixth in the West, too.

F Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

Towns has become almost underrated with all the attention placed on other young stars in the league, but he's as good as any of them. Big KAT has the T'Wolves on track to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

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2018 NBA All-Star Game: LeBron James, Steph Curry named captains; Wall and Beal miss cut for starters

2018 NBA All-Star Game: LeBron James, Steph Curry named captains; Wall and Beal miss cut for starters

The NBA announced the starters for next month's 2018 All-Star Game and once again LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers was the top vote-getter.

Stephen Curry of the Warriors was second in votes, meaning he and James will serve as captains and pick teams for the Feb. 18 showcase.

Neither John Wall or Bradley Beal of the Wizards made the cut as starters, so they will have to hope to make it as reserves by NBA coaches. The full rosters are announced on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

For the starters, fans accounted for 50 percent of the vote with players and media each representing 25 percent. 

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Here are the starters from each conference. Keep in mind these groups will be split up once the captains pick their teams:

EASTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR STARTERS

G Kyrie Irving, Celtics -- 2,170,833 fan votes (5th All-Star appearance)

G DeMar DeRozan, Raptors -- 998,999 fan votes (4th)

F LeBron James, Cavs -- 2,638,294 fan votes (14th)

F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks -- 2,530,211 fan votes (2nd)

F Joel Embiid, Sixers -- 1,285,587 fan votes (1st)

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WESTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR STARTERS

G Stephen Curry, Warriors -- 2,379,494 fan votes (5th All-Star appearance)

G James Harden, Rockets -- 1,486,830 fan votes (6th)

F Kevin Durant, Warriors -- 2,238,406 fan votes (9th)

F Anthony Davis, Pelicans -- 1,088,230 fan votes (4th)

F DeMarcus Cousins, Pelicans -- 922,269 fan votes (4th)

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