Washington Wizards vs. Boston Celtics Pick & Prediction MARCH 17th 2024

Teams at opposite ends of the NBA standings will meet Sunday evening when the Boston Celtics visit the Washington Wizards. Boston (52-14) will look to improve on the league’s best record. The Celtics extended their winning streak to four games by beating the visiting Phoenix Suns 127-112 on Thursday. The Wizards (11-56) have lost three in a row, 19 of their past 21 and own the worst record in the NBA. For the Celtics, Jaylen Brown remained hot by scoring a game-high 37 points in Thursday’s victory over the Suns. Brown is averaging 28.9 points per game since the All-Star break. “We’re all in this together, from the organization to the coaches to the players,” Brown said. “I think that’s what creates the environment is the respect level. There’s no hierarchies. We all come together and come to work, and everybody comes to do their job. “Joe (Boston coach Joe Mazzulla) sets the tone just being prepared, first. He’s diligent. And then he allows us to be who we are. We’ve been very well-coached, we’ve been disciplined, and we haven’t had so many lapses this season.”

Brown, however, was ruled out for Sunday’s game due to a right ankle sprain.

Fellow star Jayson Tatum, who has team-best averages in points (27.0) and rebounds (8.3) per game this season, is available to play in Sunday’s contest despite nursing a right ankle injury. Boston tied its season-high by making 25 3-pointers against the Suns. Al Horford was 6 of 10 on 3-point attempts and finished with a season-high 24 points. “I think we did a good job reading the game quickly, and then also our guys getting to the paint, and then the rest of us kind of benefited from that,” Horford said. “So they were attacking at the paint, and then once the defense converges, they’re kicking the ball out, and we continued to do that time in and time out. It seemed like we made the right play for most of the night.” The Wizards are coming off Saturday’s 127-98 setback at Chicago, which dropped Washington’s record to 4-20 under interim head coach Brian Keefe. Corey Kispert led Washington with 16 points and Bilal Coulibaly added 15. Washington’s Deni Avdija was a late scratch and didn’t play against the Bulls because of a right knee contusion. Kispert replaced Avdija in the starting lineup. “He (Avdija) warmed up, but he couldn’t go by the end,” Keefe said. Washington also was without Tyus Jones, who missed his first game of the season with a back injury. “They hurt us deep in the paint,” Keefe said. “They were able to get the ball in the paint, score in the paint (and) offensive rebound in the paint. We probably didn’t do enough with resistance early in the game, but as the game grew, our fight actually got better. I was pleased with that.” Boston will be without center Kristaps Porzingis for its fifth straight game on Sunday. Porzingis is dealing with a strained right hamstring, and Mazzulla said his status is day-to-day. “Regardless of who’s in, who’s out, I think what you’ve seen is we’ve played a certain level of basketball, and that’s the most important thing,” Mazzulla said. “You create an environment in the locker room where guys are out, but you can maintain your level of physicality and your level of play on both sides of the ball. It’s the most important thing.” Sunday’s game will be the third meeting between the teams this season. Boston prevailed 126-107 at Washington on Oct. 30, plus 133-129 in Boston on Feb. 9. The teams will play their final game of the season on April 14 in Boston. –Field Level Media

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