John Wall had 29 points and 11 assists as the Washington Wizards snapped a four-game losing streak Tuesday with a 113-101 victory over the Boston Celtics in Washington’s final home game before the postseason begins.
Wall, who missed Friday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks as he eases his way back from a lengthy absence after knee surgery, said Tuesday’s win was good mental preparation for the start of the playoffs this weekend.
“We know what type of team we have to be,” said the All-Star guard, who recorded his 5,000th career assist in the third quarter. “We know the intensity and atmosphere is going to be crazier [and] more physical. … Now you have one more day left and you will see a lot more intense basketball.”
The Wizards (43-38) will finish the regular season Wednesday at the Orlando Magic (24-57), a game that has postseason implications for Washington.
The Wizards currently sit in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and would face the Toronto Raptors (59-22). If Washington loses to the Magic, they’ll remain in the eighth spot.
However, Washington could move up in the standings if they win Wednesday and one of these two scenarios happen:
• If both the Miami Heat (43-38) and Milwaukee Bucks (44-37) both lose Wednesday, the Wizards move up to the sixth seed.
• If either Milwaukee loses to the Philadelphia 76ers (51-30) or Miami loses to the top-seeded Raptors, the Wizards move up to the seventh seed and face the Boston Celtics (54-27), which will be without All-Star point Kyrie Irving for the rest of the season. Washington defeated Boston in three of their four meetings this season.
If Washington captures the sixth seed, their first-round opponent has yet to be determined, since the 76ers can still leapfrog the Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31) for the third seed with a win over Milwaukee. The Cavaliers would win the tiebreaker on account of finishing atop the Eastern Conference’s Central Division.
“It’s kind of crazy, we control our own destiny in a way, but we really don’t,” said Bradley Beal, who scored 19 points on 6-of-16 shooting Tuesday. “At the end of the day, I always say, wherever the chips fall, we got to come out and compete regardless of who we play first, second, third, wherever we land.”
As for Tuesday’s game against the Celtics, Washington’s defensive intensity picked up after halftime, holding Boston to just 18 third-quarter points on 4-for-21 shooting from the floor.
Celtics guard Jaylen Brown torched Washington for 21 first-quarter points, but was held to just six more the rest of the way.
“I just feel like we did not play with the level of intensity that we needed to and we lost,” Brown said. “It’s all about how you respond, so we come out next game and respond.”
Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. didn’t play in the second half because of a lower right leg strain.
Head coach Scott Brooks said he isn’t sure if Porter will play Wednesday.
“Doubt if he plays, but you never know,” he said.