The Washington Wizards seem to have solved their road woes; now, they need to figure out how to beat the Boston Celtics. The visiting Wizards look to snap a seven-game skid against the Celtics when the Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls square off Saturday. The Celtics swept three meetings last season and have won six straight at home against Washington.
Boston squandered a 19-point lead in Wednesday's 107-106 loss to Detroit, scoring a season-high 42 points in the first quarter before fizzling. "You know, the easy part is to say that we were up 19 and we didn't hold on, but the bottom line is they outplayed us for 36 minutes out of 48," Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters. The Wizards have won the first two contests of their four-game road trip and look to make it three straight away from home for the first time since April 2012.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CSN Washington, CSN New England (Boston)
ABOUT THE WIZARDS (11-13): Washington has benefited from the return of second-year guard Bradley Beal (20.3 points), who has scored 21 and 15 points in two games since coming back from a stress injury in his right fibula. Beal pairs with point guard John Wall, who is averaging career highs in points (19.6), assists (9.1) and steals (2.1), to form one of the best young backcourts in the league. Big man Nene (14.9 points, six rebounds) also returned to the lineup with a splash, scoring 17 points in Wednesday's 113-107 win at Brooklyn after missing four games with a foot injury.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (12-15): Boston is close to getting point guard Rajon Rondo back from last year's season-ending knee surgery, which will add depth to a rotation that is beginning to take shape. Jeff Green (16.4 points) leads five starters who score in double figures and Jared Sullinger (14.2 points, 7.1 rebounds) is having a solid campaign. The Celtics lack a dominant post player, though, and Washington has been strong inside with Nene and Marcin Gortat are both in the lineup.
1. Rondo initiated an intrasquad scrimmage after practice Friday, with nine players and assistant coach Walter McCarty running the floor for nearly an hour. "He looks pretty good, but his timing is off," forward Gerald Wallace told the team's website. "He's so used to doing a lot of the things that he did in the past and it's not all back yet, but he looked comfortable."
2. Wizards rookie SG Glen Rice Jr. had surgery Wednesday to repair a broken right wrist and will be out three to six weeks. Rice is averaging 2.9 points in 11 games.
3. The Celtics, who play at Indiana on Sunday, are 2-5 in the first game of back-to-back sets.
PREDICTION: Celtics 101, Wizards 98