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Though rivalry has changed, still plenty of storylines in Wizards-Celtics Christmas Day matchup

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Though rivalry has changed, still plenty of storylines in Wizards-Celtics Christmas Day matchup

Most of the central figures that made the Wizards-Celtics rivalry one of the best and most heated in the NBA are now no longer part of it. Jae Crowder was traded from the Celtics to the Cavaliers. Kelly Olynyk left via free agency to play with the Heat. Even Jonas Jerebko departed to play for the Jazz and Brandon Jennings left Washington for China.

Going through a timeline of why the Wizards and Celtics learned to hate each other isn't really even a worthwhile exercise, as most of the events do not apply anymore. But enough players remain in the matchup to leave potential for the rivalry to continue. There are plenty of storylines to monitor as the two teams prepare to lock horns for the first time this season at 5:30 p.m. on Christmas Day.

Celtics knocked them out

Though the Celtics swapped out many of their best players from last season including Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, it is still the same team that eliminated the Wizards from the 2017 playoffs and the Wizards have not forgotten. The Wizards were one game away from their first Eastern Conference Finals berth since 1979, but Boston edged them in seven games.

That will definitely be on the minds of Wizards players on Monday.

"That's the team that knocked us out last year, so we're going to feel some type of way about it and come out with that mindset. We'll be mad and keep that same memory in the back of our head," guard Bradley Beal said. "I was beyond mad. If you can find a word that is worse than mad, that's what I was."


Kelly Oubre, Jr. in Boston

Olynyk is gone from the Celtics, but Kelly Oubre, Jr. is still on the Wizards and Boston fans surely haven't forgiven him for shoving Olynyk to the ground in Game 3 of their second round playoff series. Oubre was suspended for Game 4 and was then treated to boos and chants of 'f––– you, Oubre' in Game 5 in Boston. Citizens of Beantown love booing opponents much like they do clam chowder, the Dropkick Murphys, Sam Adams beers and Tom Brady.

Expect them to keep booing Oubre any chance they get. Let's just hope they keep it clean. Either way, Oubre won't be fazed. Remember, of getting booed he said "it makes me feel like I'm alive."

Markieff Morris vs. Al Horford

Some of the Celtic's best villians are gone, but one of the Wizards' biggest enemies is still there. Al Horford, who stepped under Markieff Morris' shot in Game 1 and sprained his left ankle, remains a key cog in Boston. Morris can't stand the guy and isn't exactly the forgiving type. He thought Horford did a dirty play and held it against him the rest of the series. Don't be surprised if Morris has some words for Horford on Monday beyond "Merry Christmas."


Markieff Morris vs. Marcus Morris

The Celtics made many moves this past summer including one that significantly changed the rivalry in a unique and interesting way. They acquired Marcus Morris, twin brother and best friend of Markieff. Now these teams can't possibly hate each other that much. Markieff talked about that dynamic this week and admitted things will be much different now.

Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier

If Wizards fans are searching for Celtics players to hate, look no further than their backcourt and Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier, who both have played roles in the Wizards-Celtics rivalry already. Both are tough, physical guards who are likely to continue being agitators against the Wizards.

Smart has had run-ins with both Beal and John Wall. Beal suffered a broken nose and concussion after colliding with Smart in 2016. Last season, Wall was ejected for a hard foul on Smart in a game in Washington.

Smart is even playing the part of rivalry denier, which is oh-so-annoying. He's taking a page right out of LeBron James' playbook by saying the Wizards and Celtics never had a rivalry in the first place. Wizards fans won't like that.


John Wall vs. Kyrie Irving

There's a new matchup to watch in Wizards-Celtics that offers plenty of intrigue, as both teams have All-Star point guards and former No. 1 overall picks. The Wizards have Wall, a four-time All-Star who went first in 2010 and the Celtics have Kyrie Irving, a four-time All-Star who was the top pick in 2011. 

The two play very different styles. Wall is much bigger and is more of a distributor. Irving is one of the best scorers in the NBA.

Wall and Irving should bring out the best in each other each time they face off.

"It's always been a great battle competing against each other," Wall said. "We are great friends off the court but on the court we are trying to take each other's head off and just trying to win the game."

Bradley Beal vs. Jayson Tatum

There is another close friendship between these teams in Beal and Jayson Tatum, two St. Louis natives who went to the same high school. Beal is five years older, but the two are very good friends and talk to each other all the time.

"I told him and he knows that we're not going to be friends when the ball goes in the air," Beal said.

Beal even has a bet to pay up on when he sees Tatum in Boston:

"I owe Jayson Tatum a gift, for a bet I lost. Duke and Florida. I got to give him his gift tomorrow. He asked for a pair of red bottoms so he's trying to break my pockets a little bit," Beal said.


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Scott Brooks feels good about John Wall and Bradley Beal's All-Star chances

Scott Brooks feels good about John Wall and Bradley Beal's All-Star chances

Voting for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game's starters is now closed and though they have not fared well with fan ballots, the chances Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal are picked as reserves seem good.

The All-Star reserves are chosen by NBA head coaches and Wizards head coach Scott Brooks thinks the Wizards should have two representatives.

"They're definitely both having All-Star years," Brooks said. "I can't vote for either one, but they are definitely in my mind two of the best guards in the East."

Wall, 27, is averaging 19.9 points and leads the Eastern Conference with 9.3 assists per game. He also leads all NBA guards with 1.1 blocks per game.

Bradley Beal, 24, is seventh in the East with 23.7 points per game and third among Eastern Conference guards. He is averaging a career-high 4.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.


The 25-19 Wizards are currently in the playoff picture, which should help their cause for two All-Stars. But there is a lot of competition at the guard position.

Beal has done plenty to make the case he should be a first-time All-Star. He leads the Wizards in points and has played in every one of their games.

What could hold Wall back is that his numbers are down from last season and the fact he missed 11 games due to injury.

Brooks, though, thinks he should be in there and that it shouldn't be all that close.

"I think John is the best point guard in the East," he said.

Wall is certainly up there among the best point guards in the conference. His competition would be guys like Kyrie Iriving, Kyle Lowry and maybe Ben Simmons. Wall is a more versatile player than Irving and has better numbers than Lowry or Simmons.

The All-Star starters are announced on Jan. 18 and the full rosters will be revealed on Jan. 23. We'll see if Wall and Beal make the cut.


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5 must-see moments from Wizards' tough loss to Bucks including John Wall's circus shot

5 must-see moments from Wizards' tough loss to Bucks including John Wall's circus shot

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 104-95 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday afternoon...

1. John Wall came out swinging in the first half with 22 points, 16 of them in the first quarter alone. 

This was one of his best plays. Wall split two defenders and then flipped it in off the glass:

Wall finished with 27 points, nine assists, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks. 

2. Kelly Oubre, Jr. led the Wizards' bench with 19 points, five rebounds and a block. He missed on this play, but nearly dunked on Giannis Antetokounmpo. That would have been something:


3. Oubre did get this one to go down. He popped a three at the buzzer to end the third quarter:

4. Wall had some nice passes including this alley-oop lob to Tomas Satoransky. Sato got way up there:

Satoransky also threw down this alley-oop pass earlier thrown by Bradley Beal:

5. This last play was by the Bucks and it was not something you see every day. Antetokounmpo fired an assist through his legs like a longsnapper:

The Wizards lost a close one. Now they head to Charlotte to begin a five-game road trip.