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.
Wall lead leg deceleration 2 rhythm dribble & accelerate— BBiomechanics (@BBiomechanics) December 26, 2017
*Tatum should take angle & give some ground as he was not very accurate from mid range vs very tight
*Trunk integrity collapses a bit forward on decel but he is able to still control/balance & accelerate @bballbreakdown pic.twitter.com/gPE8IjS04W
[RELATED: HOW TO VOTE FOR WIZARDS PLAYERS AS ALL-STARS]
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.
[RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS]