NBA Game of the Week Preview: Celtics at Wizards

Celtics at Wizards

The Boston Celtics will try to bounce back from a rare blowout loss when they finish off a quick two-game road trip at the Washington Wizards on Thursday. Following four consecutive victories, the Celtics fell 111-91 at Toronto on Tuesday to see their lead in the Eastern Conference shrink to one game over the Raptors.

Kyrie Irving returned from a quad injury to score 17 points in 22 minutes for Boston, but the All-Star guard saw his team’s chances disappear during a 37-point first half. “We got hit tonight,” Irving told reporters. “When you get hit early and they consistently hit you, they buried us, which a good team should do.” The Wizards surprisingly won five straight after losing All-Star John Wall to a knee injury before falling flat in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Bradley Beal scored 30 points in the 115-102 loss to the 76ers and he is averaging 23.4 points on 50 percent shooting and 6.2 assists over his last five games.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT

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ABOUT THE CELTICS (39-16): Irving and Jaylen Brown combined to shoot 10-of-17 from the floor while the team’s three other starters – Al Horford, Jayson Tatum and Aron Baynes – had a collective 12 points on 6-of-22 shooting. “We looked slow, we looked like we weren’t ready to react to their speed or their physicality,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “I think that was probably the case the whole night.” Terry Rozier scored 18 points off the bench and is averaging 19.3 over a four-game span.

ABOUT THE WIZARDS (31-23): Wall, who is expected to miss six to eight weeks, managed to stay in the headlines with a response to some whispers that the team was better on offense without him. “It was funny to me at first, just to see some of the things that people were saying and certain type of comments,” he said in an interview on ESPN’s The Jump. “But I’ve seen these guys put in a lot of work every day, and we always say the motto is next man up no matter what. I think we moved the ball well early in the season, we just couldn’t make shots. And we couldn’t defend at all. I think now guys are stepping up and the first unit and second unit are playing very well. But it was kind of shocking to hear a couple people say the ball is moving a lot better, when that’s what I pride myself off of, being more happy when my teammates are scoring than I am.” Washington averaged 32.2 assists during the five-game winning streak before recording 23 against Philadelphia.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Beal’s 25 points led the Wizards in a 111-103 win at Boston on Christmas.

2. Horford was 1-for-5 from the floor at Toronto and shoots 46.2 percent on the road, compared to 55.1 at home.

3. Washington SF Kelly Oubre Jr. is 1-for-14 from beyond the arc over his last three contests.

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