The Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics moved beyond bad losses with blowout wins and both seek to win a second straight contest when they renew a heated rivalry in a Christmas Day affair in Boston. The Celtics followed up a one-point home loss to a depleted Miami Heat squad with a nine-point setback at Madison Square Garden before righting the ship with a 117-92 rout of Chicago on Saturday.
“I thought obviously we looked fresher; we looked like we had our legs under us,” Boston coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “We were excited to play coming off those two tough losses. And that’s a good basketball team. I mean, and they were really playing at a high level. You could see that in the first half.” The Wizards suffered their second-highest margin of defeat at Brooklyn - a 119-84 loss - on Friday before bouncing back at home against the injury-ravaged Orlando Magic. Mike Scott led a balanced attack with 18 points and Washington shot 54.7 en route to the 130-103 triumph. The teams split four heated meetings last season, including one that saw tensions spill into a shouting match in the back hall of TD Garden, and then squared off in a back-and-forth Eastern Conference Semifinals won by the Celtics in seven games.
TV: 5:30 p.m. ET, ABC
ABOUT THE WIZARDS (18-15): Scott’s recent accuracy has been among the most notable aspects of Washington’s season, and he rebounded from a rare off night to make 7-of-8 shots - including his one 3-point try - against the Magic. “Healthy, confidence, work on my game a lot,” he told reporters when discussing the hottest stretch of his six-year career. “With a lot of repetition comes confidence.” Excluding a 3-for-8 effort in the loss to the Nets, Scott is 60-for-80 in a nine-game span while making more than half of his 27 3-point attempts.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (27-9): Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown scored a combined 45 points and made 9-of-13 3-pointers in Saturday’s win. Irving has made 23-of-48 triples over a five-game span and is averaging 28.5 points over his past 11 outings. “I think that’s the one thing that gets lost in all the handles and all the different moves and the plays that end up on YouTube, is how – how skilled he is shooting the ball,” Stevens said. “He’s just a tremendous shooter. He’s got beautiful touch. He doesn’t miss when you’re just doing shooting without defense. He’s an elite shooter. So it doesn’t surprise me when he goes on runs. Almost like you take for granted how good he is.”
1. Washington SF Kelly Oubre Jr. scored in double figures in a season-high four straight games.
2. Celtics F Al Horford is shooting 58.6 percent at home and 46.5 percent on the road.
3. Wizards PG John Wall is shooting 35.3 percent in six games since returning from a knee injury, but 39.3 percent from beyond the arc.
PREDICTION: Celtics 111, Wizards 107