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Wizards top Celtics for best win of season behind big games from their stars

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Wizards top Celtics for best win of season behind big games from their stars

The Washington Wizards beat the Boston Celtics 111-103 on Christmas Day. Here's analysis of what went down...

Even match: The Wizards believe they are better than their record would suggest and that certainly appeared true in their Christmas Day matchup with the Boston Celtics, owners of the best mark in the Eastern Conference. Washington (19-15) more than held their own in a back-and-forth battle with one of the NBA's heavyweights and emerged with their best win of the season so far.

The reason for that is because the Wizards' stars showed up. Bradley Beal caught fire early and John Wall and Otto Porter followed his lead. Beal looked like the best player on the court in the first half with 15 point and four rebounds. He finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Wall went off in the second and fourth quarters. He had 21 points, 14 assists and five rebounds. Porter was dominant at times in the second half and ended up with 20 points, six rebounds (three offensive), a steal and a block.

It was just one game, but life was a lot easier for Wall and Beal against the Celtics without Avery Bradley on the floor. The Celtics traded him to the Pistons over the summer and his presence was missed because the Wizards' backcourt at times could not be stopped. Boston tried everything and aside from holding them to 0-for-9 from three, it was a struggle.

The Celtics still have options with two physical guards in Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart and two uber-athletic wings in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. But the inexperience of Brown and Tatum was taken advantage of, in particular. That was never more evident than on a play late in the fourth quarter when Wall blew by Tatum for an easy layup with a simple hesitation, stop-and-go move.


Wizards-Celtics is still fun: This game reaffirmed several things. The Wizards, despite their inconsistency this season, remain a talented group capable of keeping up with the best teams in the NBA. We also learned that there is still plenty of fun left in the Wizards vs. Celtics matchup.

There was a point in the third quarter where Wall and Kyrie Irving were trading buckets. That included Irving splitting two defenders and going up and around Mike Scott at the rim with a reverse finger roll off the glass. Irving had a nice game with 20 points and five assists, but Wall's versatility helped him and the Wizards win out. He scored, but also set others up for easy looks.

Oubre came to play: The last time the Wizards played at TD Garden, Kelly Oubre, Jr. was given just six seconds of playing time as head coach Scott Brooks tightened his rotation in a decisive Game 7. Oubre used that as motivation throughout the summer and so far this season has looked like the team's most improved player. On Monday, he served a clear reminder of that.

Oubre provided a spark for the Wizards quickly with nine points in the first half. He had a steal that led to a dunk for Beal on the other end. He had a pair of dunks and even scored on a Eurostep, fadeaway combination that we had not seen from him before. Oubre finished with 16 points and five rebounds (three offensive). He shot 7-for-13 from the field.

Oubre's athleticism can be a big factor in the matchup between the Wizards and Celtics. Boston has two crazy athletic young wings in Brown and Tatum and many teams don't have an answer for that. In Oubre, the Wizards have at least one guy who can match them in size, speed and length.

Bench didn't hold up: Despite Oubre's contributions, the Wizards' bench didn't do a great job turning the page from their disaster of a showing in Game 7. Aside from Oubre, they managed just four points. It is a very different group, but the Celtics' depth continued to give the Wizards' second unit problems in this one. Their second unit outscored that of the Wizards 43-18.

Up next: The Wizards are off Tuesday before moving on to Atlanta to play the Hawks on Wednesday night. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.


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It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

The Wizards crossed off an important goal on Saturday night by beating the Indiana Pacers and therefore securing the season series. If the teams tie with the same regular season record, the Wizards will get the higher playoff seed. As of today, that would mean home court advantage in the first round.

Though the Wizards have beaten the Pacers in two of their three matchups this season, we only know so much about how they would match up in the playoffs. The first game between them didn't feature Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo and John Wall didn't play in any of the three games. The Pacers were without both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on Saturday night.

Given the Pacers underwent so much change over the summer, there is no real data to go off of from before this season. They are a completely different team with Oladipo leading the way and Paul George now in Oklahoma City.


There are reasons to believe, however, that the Wizards would fare well against the Pacers over the course of a seven-game series. For one, they figured out how to slow Oladipo and his teammate Bojan Bogdanovic on Saturday night. Both had killed the Wizards in previous matchups.

Oladipo was held to 18 points, over five points below his season average of 23.5. He had four turnovers, shot 7-for-16 (43.7%) and finished a -18 in a game the Pacers lost by seven.

The Wizards had some success with Tomas Satoransky guarding Oladipo. Satoransky is 6-foot-7 with long arms. He was able to recover on several occasions to alter Oladipo's shots.

Satoransky and Bradley Beal also did a good job keeping pace with Oladipo on the fastbreak. The Pacers had only four fastbreak points in the game. Oladipo is especially dangerous in the open court.

“We just made sure that we were aggressive with him and made sure he saw a lot of bodies in the paint," Beal said. "The last game, he got a lot of easy ones in transition. We just made sure that we got back on the shot, loaded to the ball and forced the other guys to attack.”

For Bogdanovic, it was about limiting open shots from the perimeter. Bogdanovic had 11 points, three below his season average and had four turnovers. Beal and Otto Porter stripped Bogdanovic for steals and Marcin Gortat took a charge on one play in the third quarter.


But it was all about taking away the outside shot. Bogdanovic only hit one shot in the first half and it was a three. The only reason he got it off is because Kelly Oubre, Jr. lost his balance backing up. That gave Bogdanovic the window he needed. Otherwise, Oubre helped frustrate the former Wizards small forward. So did Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who did a good job covering their teammates off screens.

The Pacers are an average offensive team, ranking 16th in points per game and 14th in offensive rating. They are better defensively, ranking ninth-best in opponents points per game and 12th in defensive efficiency.

If the Wizards can limit Oladipo and Bogdanovic, the Pacers' two leading scorers, they should have a good shot at beating the Pacers in the playoffs. Beyond them, the Pacers are thin in the scoring department. Turner only averages 13.6 points and no one else beyond him can consistently make an opposing defense pay for mistakes. Conversely, several Wizards players have given the Pacers major trouble through three games this season.

Gortat, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, has averaged 13 points and eight rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting against Indiana. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had 16 points in 18 minutes, has averaged 15.5 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field.


In addition to those guys, Markieff Morris, Porter, Mike Scott, Mahinmi and Satoransky are all shooting over 50 percent against the Pacers. Satoransky is shooting 71.4 percent through three games.

The Wizards have the pieces to counter what the Pacers do best. Indiana is seventh in three-point percentage, but the Wizards are the best team in basketball in opponents three-point percentage. The Pacers are built around an All-Star guard, but the Wizards have two All-Star guards. The Pacers have a collection of talented wing players, but so do the Wizards.

"Hypothetically, I do like Indiana," Beal said. "I like how we match up with Indiana and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that we can take advantage of. In a lot of categories, I think we can win them."

Add it all up and the Wizards have every reason to feel confident if they see the Pacers in the posteason. Keep that in mind because they very well could meet up in the spring.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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