Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards Pick & Prediction APRIL 14th 2024

The Washington Wizards will attempt to end their season on a high note and halt a five-game losing streak Sunday when they visit the Boston Celtics on the final day of the NBA’s regular season.

The Wizards (15-66) were the first Eastern Conference team eliminated from playoff contention this season. Only Detroit (14-67) has a worse record in the NBA.

The team’s coaching situation is one issue the Wizards will have to address following Sunday’s game. Brian Keefe was promoted from top assistant to interim head coach in January. He replaced Wes Unseld Jr.

Keefe tiptoed around the question when he was asked Friday if he wanted to return as Washington’s head coach next season.

“We have another game,” Keefe said. “My sole focus has been on our group, on our team — to keep us progressing. I haven’t thought about that stuff yet because I’ve been engrossed with trying to help our team improve and help our team get better, which I think we have. So we have another game on Sunday and we’re going to throw everything we have into our energy. … We’re excited for our challenge Sunday at Boston.”

The Celtics (63-18), who will be the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, have been on cruise control since they locked up home-court advantage throughout the playoffs in early April. Boston won’t know it’s first-round playoff opponent until after the play-in tournament.

Boston rarely has played all of its starters in recent games. The Celtics rested the top six players in their rotation Friday, but still came away with a 131-98 home victory against Charlotte.

Point guard Payton Pritchard scored a career-high 31 points and had 11 assists in 31 minutes against the Hornets. Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said he’s seen significant improvement in Pritchard’s game this season.

“Just being a complete player from the standpoint of every game is going to be different,” Mazzulla said. “He affects the game in many different ways. Having a consistent role for an entire season is really beneficial, which I think this is the first time he’s had that where you know each and every night when he’s playing, where’s he’s playing and kind of what the potential is.

“So I think a little bit of that and then every night it could be different. It could be shooting, it could be ball-handling, it could be defense, it could be rebounding. And then he really takes pride in game management — end of quarters, start of quarters. Scanning the floor. It’s been really good to watch him play.”

The Celtics, who are averaging 120.4 points per game, have a 36-4 home record this season. One of those home wins was a 133-129 victory against the Wizards on Feb. 9. The Celtics also beat the Wizards twice on the road, 126-107 on Oct. 30 and 130-104 on March 17.

The Wizards went with a young lineup for Friday’s 129-127 home loss to Chicago. Patrick Baldwin Jr. scored 18 points and had 12 rebounds in the loss, and rookie Tristan Vukcevic added a career-high 19 points.

“We’ve played a lot of close games, fourth-quarter games, but (it’s) taking advantage of their opportunity,” Keefe said when asked about the team’s younger players. “I think that’s the thing that I’ve been really pleased about with them, is that when their opportunity has (come) throughout the year, they’ve seized the moment.”

–Field Level Media

Docsports, The most trusted name in sports handicapping