Wizards chase best season start in 16 years vs. Celtics

NBA Basketball

The Washington Wizards seek their second win over the Boston Celtics in four days — and the franchise’s best start since 2005-06 — Saturday in Washington, D.C.

The Wizards followed a 116-107 win in Boston on Wednesday with a 122-111 triumph over Atlanta the next night. Bradley Beal led four Washington scorers with at least 21 points in Thursday’s win, netting 27.

Montrezl Harrell shot 10-of-16 from the floor for 25 points, and both Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope notched 21 points. The trio of Harrell, Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope were all offseason acquisitions in the trade of Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Each of Washington’s newcomers have been important to the team’s 4-1 start, including in Wednesday’s matchup with Boston when Harrell recorded 25 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.

Harrell moved into the starting lineup on Thursday due to Washington playing without usual starters Rui Hachimura, Daniel Gafford and Spencer Dinwiddie. Hachimura and Gafford are both questionable for Saturday.

Washington’s balance has powered it to a strong start, needing just this next win to move to 5-1 for the first time in 16 years, but still look to build on what’s worked thus far.

“It’s a good start, but in all reality, it doesn’t mean anything,” Kuzma said, per NBC Sports Washington. “You can start off 4-1, 5-1 and you see teams all the time start out hot and then they just fall to the ground. … The regular season is just a rehearsal for the big dance, which is the playoffs.”

Boston has been off since the home loss on Wednesday to Washington. Starting with Saturday’s matchup, the Celtics will play four of their next five on the road.

In the last meeting with the Wizards, Dennis Schroder — who was teammates with Harrell, Caldwell-Pope and Kuzma last season in Los Angeles — came off the bench to score 22 points.

It was Schroder’s second straight game scoring more than 20 points. His 23 points helped the Celtics to a 140-129 overtime win at Charlotte on Monday.

Boston coach Ime Udoka praised Schroder’s ability to “increase the pace” of games when he’s on the floor during Wednesday’s postgame press conference.

“He’s done that the last three games. All season, actually,” Udoka said. “His pace changes our tempo as a team, and we get out and get much easier baskets. He’s finding his groove overall.”

Schroder gives Boston another scoring weapon in the backcourt along with the tandem of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Tatum and Brown have averaged a combined 51.1 points per game to start the season, though Washington held Brown to just 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting in Wednesday’s meeting. Tatum scored 23 points and shot just 1-of-8 from 3-point range against the Wizards.

Tatum told reporters after the loss that the Celtics are still developing chemistry under their first-year head coach and with a somewhat new-look roster. Boston lost veteran guard Kemba Walker in the offseason and re-added veteran big man Al Horford.

“With 16, 17 guys on the team, different personalities … everybody, I guess even myself included, gets emotional or loses their cool at times,” Tatum said. “But that’s why it’s a team sport and we just have to be there for each other at those times to regroup, regather and get focused.”

–Field Level Media

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