Coming off a deflating 141-136 loss to the 76ers where the Wizards almost pulled off a 21-point second-half comeback thanks to a career-best 60 points from Bradley Beal on Wednesday night, the Wizards are refocusing to play another Eastern Conference powerhouse in Boston on Friday.
Beal's 60 points matched the franchise record set by none other than Gilbert Arenas in 2006, but it still wasn't enough. Late turnovers and poor execution down the stretch meant Washington couldn't keep up in the shootout against Philadelphia.
Russell Westbrook exited the loss with 26 seconds remaining due to a dislocated finger, but coach Scott Brooks said he may be available for both of the Wizards' back-to-back contests. Previously, Westbrook hasn't played on the second nights of back-to-backs.
With or without Westbrook, the Wizards will be looking for a statement away win against a Celtics team that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. It's also a battle of the St. Louis superstars: Beal vs. his mentee, Jayson Tatum.
Here's how to watch.
WIZARDS @ BOSTON HOW TO WATCH
What: NBA regular-season game No. 9
Who: Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
When: Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, at 7:30 p.m.
TV Channel: Wizards vs. Celtics will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)
Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Celtics on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.
Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM
WIZARDS @ BOSTON TV SCHEDULE
5:30 pm: Washington Football Today
6:00 pm: Pro Football Weekly
6:30 PM: NBA: Wizards @ Boston Celtics (LIVE)
11:00 PM: Washington Football Today (R)
WIZARDS @ BOSTON WHAT TO WATCH
Brooks has been experimenting with lineups throughout the Wizards' first eight games of the season so far, in large part because he was forced to do so. Davis Bertans started the season with a minutes restriction as he hadn't played since March and had troubles getting over to training camp due to visa troubles, Rui Hachimura suffered from a severe eye infection, and now Russell Westbrook is dealing with a dislocated finger.
Bodily ailments or not, the Wizards are giving up points with far too little resistance. Expect that trend to carry into Friday night against a talented Celtics offense. With sharpshooters like Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and (at times) Marcus Smart, Washington's defensive rotations must be much sharper than they were in Philadelphia, where they gave up 82 first-half points.
One key question that's come up is the lack of playing time for one of the Wizards' better defenders on the roster, Isaac Bonga. With the German wing among those riding the bench en route to registering three DNPs after starting the first three games of the season while Hachimura got back to full strength, Brooks was rather frank in his approach to the rotation on Thursday.
Boston, meanwhile, is riding a three-game winning streak and is sitting at 6-3 in the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. While their star point guard Kemba Walker recovers from a left knee injury suffered before the start of the season, Tatum and company are beginning to hit their stride.
WIZARDS @ BOSTON PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Thomas Bryant, C, Wizards (17 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.6 apg): Bryant has improved immensely in a shortened offseason, shooting lights out to start the 2020-21 season. Through eight games, the former Hoosier ranks second in field goal percentage with 66.7%, even converting his 3-pointers at a 45% clip. The Wizards big man has been the clear third-best option on offense but will need to continue his upward trajectory on the defensive end to help his team get more wins.
Jayson Tatum, SF, Celtics (26.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 4.0 apg): The former Blue Devil forward ranks seventh in scoring average through nine games this campaign, and it seems like the gifted scorer adds another element to his game after each offseason. This year, Tatum's handle is as tight as ever and will certainly give the Wizards defense headaches all night long.