Sat, 26 Sep 2020

Wizards hope to avoid winless restart vs. Celtics

Field Level Media
13 Aug 2020, 03:19 GMT+10

The Washington Wizards wrap up their 2019-20 season Thursday afternoon when they take an eighth crack at a first win in the restart against the Boston Celtics in the NBA bubble near Orlando.

Playing without guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Wizards (24-47) have lost seven straight at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, including five by 11 or more points.

An eighth consecutive loss would complete Washington's season with a .333 winning percentage, the franchise's worst since going 20-46 (.303) in the shortened 2011-12 campaign.

The Wizards already are assured of missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season.

Washington's lasting memory of the bubble probably occurred Tuesday night, when Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo head-butted Wizards big man Mo Wagner after a collision near the Bucks' basket.

The Most Valuable Player candidate's stunning reaction to an offensive foul and subsequent brief war of words resulted in Antetokounmpo getting ejected in the second quarter.

It didn't result in a Wizards win, however. Down 10 at the time, Washington went on to lose 126-113.

The game did not go well for the Wizards' Troy Brown Jr., who got his first NBA start at point guard. He shot 3 of 15 overall and 1 of 4 on 3-point attempts while scoring nine points to complement six rebounds and three assists.

After being formally eliminated from the playoff race, the Wizards have used the remaining games in Florida as a trial run of sorts for young guys who figure to be role players if and when Wall, Beal and forward Davis Bertans, a pending free agent, return next season.

"This is time that we can experiment with that," Washington coach Scott Brooks told reporters of Brown's shot at running the team. "Next year, he's probably not going to get those opportunities where he's going to be really the only playmaker on the floor."

One of the Wizards' highlights of the season came back in January, when Brown went for 15 points off the bench and Ish Smith exploded for 27 in a 99-94 home win over the Celtics.

Beal missed that game as well, though he bombed in 44 points in a November loss at Boston. The season series stands at 1-1.

The Celtics (48-23), meanwhile, will get one final tune-up for the start of the playoffs, which tip off Monday. Locked into the No. 3 seed in the East, Boston likely will match up with Philadelphia in Round 1.

The goal Thursday: Keep all players -- especially the star tandem of forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown -- healthy.

Tatum leads the Celtics in scoring in the bubble at 22.4 points per game. Brown is next at 19.6.

They've also found time to combine for 12.6 rebounds and five assists, as Boston has won five of seven, including its last four.

"Those two guys," point guard Kemba Walker told reporters this week, "they watch so much film and they are seeing how teams are guarding them. For them to make the plays they've been making lately, it's pretty special. It's been special to watch."

--Field Level Media

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