Celtics-Wizards takeaways: C's defense doesn't make trip to D.C.


The Boston Celtics' three-game win streak came to an end with a blowout loss to the lowly Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.

Lackluster defense and poor shooting put the C's in a 13-point hole at halftime. They had no answer for Wizards big man Kristaps Porzingis, who dropped 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting in the first half alone. It didn't get any better for them in the second half.

Washington, without both Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma, shot 54.5 percent from the floor. Boston shot 48.4 percent but went just 11-for-44 (25 percent) from beyond the arc. The Celtics trailed by as many as 23 points -- their largest deficit since Jan. 3 -- as they were outclassed by the 11th-place team in the Eastern Conference, 130-111.

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Jayson Tatum tallied a team-high 28 points and nine rebounds in the losing effort. Jaylen Brown added 18 points and Marcus Smart (14 points, 4-7 3PT) was the only bright spot from deep.

Porzingis finished with 32 points and 12 boards. Deni Avdijia (25 points), Monte Morris (19 points), and Corey Kispert (15 points), each contributed to Boston's demise.

Next up for the Celtics is a crucial Thursday night showdown with the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks, who now lead Boston in the East standings by 2.5 games. First, here are three quick takeaways from Tuesday's tough loss to Washington.

Defense doesn't make the trip

This was one of the Celtics' worst defensive performances of the 2022-23 season. They came out flat against the Wizards group that lacked two of its top scorers in Beal and Kuzma.

Washington set the tone with 64 points -- including 36 in the paint -- in the first half. Porzingis led the way with 20 of those points to help the Wizards shoot 53.8 percent from the floor through the first two quarters. For comparison's sake, the C's shot 42.3 percent from the floor including just 7-for-25 on 3s in the first half.

They allowed Washington to score 99 points through the first three quarters and 130 altogether. It's the most points they've allowed in regulation since they let up 150 against Oklahoma City on Jan. 3.

The Celtics will need to flip a switch when they land in Milwaukee for a marquee matchup with the Bucks on Thursday.

Missed opportunity

Barring a surprise over the final six games, the Bucks appear to have the No. 1 seed in the bag. The Celtics had a chance to pull within one game back of Milwaukee leading into Thursday's meeting, but their loss to Washington could put them three games back if the Bucks win their Wednesday game vs. Indiana.

Only six games remain in the Celtics' regular-season schedule. After the Bucks, they will wrap up the campaign against the Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors (twice), and Atlanta Hawks.

The one saving grace for the C's is if they beat Milwaukee on Thursday, they will own the tiebreaker.

Bench gives late life

Boston's starters simply didn't bring the energy in this one. The defensive effort was virtually non-existent and there was little flow on offense.

Head coach Joe Mazzulla tried to give his team some sort of spark by emptying the bench in the fourth quarter. It worked for at least a little while as the second unit cut a 22-point deficit to 12. Payton Pritchard, returning from a heel injury, made his presence felt with five points -- including this stepback 3-pointer -- in nine minutes.

Luke Kornet added eight points and Sam Hauser chipped in five in garbage time.

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