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Wizards vs. Celtics preview: Washington looks to start winning streak on Monday night

Also, Kara Lawson, the Wizards’ former TV color analyst returns ... as a Celtics assistant.

Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

A Bradley Beal-less Washington Wizards had an absolutely ballistic outing against top Western Conference team Denver Nuggets to grab their first win of the decade, and what a win!

For the second time in under two weeks (the first was against Miami), a Beal-less squad was underestimated by the opponents who expected a stroll-in-the-park against a sub-0.500 team, and once again the eager-to-impress Wizards roster over-achieved, bigtime.

Game Info

When: Monday, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, DC

How to watch: NBC Sports Washington

Injury Report

Wizards: Moritz Wagner (Out), Rui Hachimura (Out), Davis Bertans (Out), (Out), C.J. Miles (Out), Thomas Bryant (Out), John Wall (Out), Bradley Beal (Day-to-Day),

Celtics: Vincent Poirier (Out), Kemba Walker (Day-to-Day), Robert Williams III (Out).

Pregame notes

Rebounds matter — Previous to the Denver game I wrote that a key to the game would be limiting Jokic’s rebounds. He had 20 when the teams met in Denver, and only 10 on Saturday. Surprisingly, Troy Brown, Jr. (TBJ), had himself a night with no less than 14 rebounds.

Johnathan Williams also had the best game among the starters with 8 boards (and a +16 game, the best other starter had -10 (McRae)). I was somewhat surprised that Williams was waived right after the game, although that has something to do with shuffling roster spots.

Maybe the Wiz will bring him back later in the season, but in the meantime he might be grabbed off waivers or end up in the Lakers G-League team. At any rate, someone else will have to replace him and I’m not quite sure who that is supposed to be.

This game will test the Celtics’ mettle — The Wizards’ subs caught Miami and Denver by surprise; I expect visiting teams will do a fuller background check on some of the lesser-known players suiting up for the Wiz, e.g., Garrison Mathews, Jordan McRae, TBJ. And you can bet the Celtics, one of the most well-prepared coaching staffs in the league will come prepared.

Troy Brown, Jr, regains his mojo — After a fantastic game of the bench against Denver on Saturday, Brown has now regained his mojo. This is his time to grab the spotlight and earn a position, perhaps in the starting lineup on the team. Go Troy!

IT revenge game please?— I wanted an IT revenge game against Denver, but, honestly, Denver treated him pretty well, all things considered. The ultimate IT revenge game should really come against the Celtics who basically discarded Thomas at the height of his career, letting him figure things out the hard way through injuries that he sustained while playing for Boston.

Welcome back Kara Lawson — The former Wizards color analyst is now an assistant coach on Brad Stevens’ staff.

Flashback: The good ol’ Wizards-Celtics rivalry

The Wizards’ second round playoff series against the Celtics in 2016-2017 was the highest point of the Ernie Grunfeld tenure. The series reached seven games and Washington had a real shot to make the Eastern Conference Finals.

It was also the high point of Thomas’s career, especially game 2 where he dropped 53 (!) points to overcome the Wizards in what was possibly the most important moment in the series: