Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

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Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WASHINGTON These are the kind of games that are kind of scary if you're the Boston Celtics.

Yes, the Boston Celtics (33-9) have the best record in the Eastern Conference.

And the Washington Wizards (12-29) are the Washington Wizards.

You can break down their struggles on many levels, but easily one of their biggest problems has been their inability to finish games strong.

Washington comes into tonight's game having been outscored in the fourth quarter in each of their last seven games, the longest such streak in the NBA.

That helps explain why they spend so much time in Loser's lounge, while the C's keep throwing back one big win after another.

Boston comes into tonight's game with a five-game winning streak, a streak that includes them outscoring each of those teams in the fourth quarter which by the way, is the longest such current streak in the NBA.

As impressive as the C's ability to close out teams has been, equally important to their success has been starting off fast.

During its current five-game winning streak, the Celtics have finished the first quarter leading by an average of 4.4 points per game.

"When our starters get off to a good start, that helps us a lot," said C's swingman Marquis Daniels. "It makes our job a lot easier. All we have to do is just keep what they started, going."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Crowder on Wizards' all-black 'funeral' plans for Celtics: 'That's cute!'

Crowder on Wizards' all-black 'funeral' plans for Celtics: 'That's cute!'

The Washington Wizards plan to roll into tonight’s game against the Celtics donning all-black clothes, as in a funeral procession, a sign of solidarity and an omen of sorts for a game that they hope ends with them burying the Celtics.
 
When Jae Crowder was asked about the Wizards all-black gear, his initial response...“That’s cute!”
 
More than anything, the Wizards (24-20) are putting a significant amount of value into tonight’s game. A victory would extend their home winning streak to 14.

Meanwhile, the Celtics (26-17) come in looking to snap a two-game losing streak.
 
“This is definitely not Game 7 or the playoffs,” said Isaiah Thomas. “But if they want to take it that serious, they can.”
 
The idea to arrive at the Verizon Center donning all-black was hatched by Bradley Beal, who has some contentious moments, to say the least, with the Celtics recently.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens knows all about the funeral talk which to him is just that, talk. He’s more concerned with his team doing what they need to do in order to win.
 
Nothing more.
 
Nothing less.
 
“At the end of the day, good basketball teams are physical,” he said. “There’s a line you don’t want to cross. Ultimately, you have to be appropriately physical at a high level. It’s about playing well, focus on your next task at hand. This is a great opportunity to see where we’re at.”

In the Celtics' 117-108 win over the Wizards on Jan. 11, Beal was whistled for a flagrant-1 foul after getting into it with Marcus Smart.
 
Last season, Beal was on the receiving end of a left forearm to the face from Smart, who was driving to the basket at the time. The blow resulted in a broken nose for Beal in addition to spending time in the league’s concussion protocol program.
 
And then there’s his backcourt mate John Wall.
 
He was fined $15,000 for his role in a postgame incident with Jae Crowder (who was fined $25,000). Crowder pushed Wall’s nose with his finger, which led to Wall retaliating with a slap towards Crowder’s face.
 
And when the two met back on Nov. 9, Wall was hit with a flagrant-2 foul (an automatic ejection) when he threw Smart down hard to floor in the final moments of a Wizards win.
 
The Celtics have a few games that have become more physical than others recently, but there’s something about this Celtics-Wizards matchup that brings out an elevated level of feistiness.
 
“It’s just all talk; that’s all it is,” Thomas said. “I guess they taking it and running with it. I don’t know what it is. I [saw] the funeral and the all-black thing last night and I just laughed about it. We’ll be there tonight for a game, not a funeral.”
 

WATCH: Celtics vs. Wizards

WATCH: Celtics vs. Wizards

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics play the Wizards in Washington. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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- Talk about the game via social media on CSN's Pulse, presented by Ford