So it goes. You rest four All-Stars, you usually lose. The C's will have to accept that.
John Wall leads the way for the Wizards, with a dazzling 24 points, nine rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block.
The Celtics get 20 points with 15 rebounds from Jeff Green, plus 20 more from Glen Davis. Jermaine O'Neal contributes 15 points and 13 rebounds for his first double-double with the Celtics.
Tough loss, but the C's are looking forward. They return home to face the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. They'll then face the Knicks again this weekend — in the first round of the playoffs.
Overtime, 5.9 seconds, Wizards 95-94: First Jermaine O'Neal comes up with a tip-in bucket to put the Celtics back within one; then Glen Davis comes up with a defensive rebound off a Crawford miss.
The Celtics have a shot to win this game. Probably one shot, literally.
Can they do it?
Overtime, 38.6 seconds, Wizards 95-92: Jordan Crawford makes the shot of the night. The Wizards run the inside-out game, with Yi Jianlian getting inside and kicking it out to a wide-open Jordan Crawford for a 3.
Dagger through the Celtics' hearts.
Despite getting historically good performances from Jermaine O'Neal, Glen Davis and Jeff Green, the C's could lose this one.
Overtime, 1:29, 90-90: JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche have both fouled out, one after the other. Now it's Washington's turn to find out what it's like to play OT without multiple starters.
Glen Davis just knocked down two free throws to tie the game. With Both of the Wizards' starting bigs off the floor, the C's have a golden opportunity to win this thing.
What a crazy game.
Overtime, 1:58, Wizards 90-88: JaVale McGee throws down a nice hard dunk. The lead swings back to the Wizards with a 4-0 run.
The Wiz are young, energetic and hungry. It's hard to count them out in a game like this.
Overtime, 2:48, 88-88: Two shots for Othyus Jeffers. He makes them both, and we're tied up again.
These no-name youngsters are holding their own against the Celtics. Pretty impressive.
Overtime, 4:09, Celtics 86-84: The Celtics strike first in OT. Jermaine O'Neal draws a foul from JaVale McGee, and he gets to the line for two shots. He hits them both.
J.O. now has 13 points and 11 rebounds. Solid night for him.
He's also played 33 minutes, and counting. Bet you he never expected that.
End of fourth quarter, 84-84: Another mistake from Von Wafer in the final seconds — JaVale McGee misses the game tying shot and it looks like Wafer has the rebound, but he drops it out of bounds on the way down. The Wizards get the ball back, and Jordan Crawford ties the ballgame.
To overtime we go. Exactly where the Celtics don't want to go when they only have nine players in uniform.
Fourth quarter, 17.1 seconds, Celtics 84-82: The Wizards foul Von Wafer, and that does the trick. Wafer misses the first of his two free throws.
After he makes the second, the Wiz call timeout. Both teams are now out of TOs.
The Wizards have a chance to tie it up now. If they do, Doc doesn't have a timeout to map out one last play for the win.
Fourth quarter, 21.2 seconds, Celtics 83-82: Wall makes all three.
If he really wants to come through in the clutch, though, he'll see to it the Wizards get a stop. Big, big possession coming up.
Fourth quarter, 21.2 seconds, Celtics 83-79: Carlos Arroyo swings an elbow at John Wall in the act of a 3. Looks like the elbow missed him completely, but Wall flails as he gets the shot up, and it looks like he's going to get the call.
Three shots for Wall.
This game is not over.
Fourth quarter, 58.2 seconds, Celtics 83-77: That might be the biggest basket of Von Wafer's season. Rookie Jordan Crawford turns the ball over for Washington, and the C's get a fast break. Wafer finishes at the rim. Rather than cut the lead to two, the Wizards have let Wafer extend it to six.
After a wild, back-and-forth night, the Celtics may finally be ready to put the finishing touches on a win. Pretty crazy.
Fourth quarter, 2:22, Celtics 77-75: John Wall gets a good look at a running jumper in the lane, but it rims out. Carlos Arroyo gets the rebound, gets back to the other end, and quickly finds himself shockingly wide open in the corner for a 3. He takes his time and knocks it down.
Another minute, another lead change. Now the Celtics are in position to win this thing.
Fourth quarter, 5:01, Wizards 71-70: The Celtics cut the lead to one on a sharp 19-foot jump shot from Jeff Green.
Green now has 18 points and 14 rebounds. Big, big night for the new kid. He's proving that when he gets the minutes, he can still produce.
Fourth quarter, 6:26, Wizards 71-68: The Celtics are hanging around in this thing. They're hoping the post offense of Jermaine O'Neal can give them a chance to score the comeback win.
J.O. is being guarded by the Chairman, Yi Jianlian.
Remember when the C's almost picked Yi in the 2007 draft instead of Jeff Green?
Fourth quarter, 9:46, Wizards 68-62: The Wizards' 7-0 run has become 15-2. Are you kidding me?
Now the Wizards have a six-point lead with under 10 minutes to play.
Doc Rivers calls for a timeout.
He looks like he's about to go insane. I can't blame him.
End of third quarter, 60-60: I have no idea who Othyus Jeffers is, but he just made a nice play to tip in a John Wall miss for a buzzer-beating bucket to close the third.
The Celtics went on a 10-0 run, now it's a 7-0 run for the Wizards. Streak streak streak streak streak.
Third quarter, 3:33, Celtics 58-53: Jeff Green just keeps on firing. That's 16 points on 17 shots now for him, and the night is far from over.
The C's have reclaimed the lead with an 8-0 run. This game is streakier than Joe DiMaggio in 1941.
Third quarter, 5:45, Celtics 52-51: With Delonte West off the floor, the Celtics are relying on Jeff Green offensively more than ever before. The Celtics' forward has now taken 15 shots, a game high.
Green spent years in Oklahoma City overshadowed by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and now he's in a similar situation with the Celtics. When he gets an opportunity to be the main guy, even for just one night, he makes sure to seize it.
Green has 12 points and 11 rebounds, the only double-double of the game so far.
Third quarter, 8:51, Celtics 46-45: Good news: Carlos Arroyo puts the Celtics on the board, snapping an 8-0 Wizards run. Bad news: Delonte has limped back to the locker room, and he couldn't make it all the way there on his own power.
He's such an aggressive player that he's prone to freak injuries like this. He plays without respect for life or limb — just loves to compete.
Third quarter, 11:01, Celtics 44-41: First it's a 4-0 run for the Wizards to open the third quarter, and now it's an apparent injury for Delonte West. The aggressive, almost reckless C's guard crashes into JaVale McGee and apparently reinjures the right ankle he sprained last month.
West limps off the floor, but he doesn't go to the locker room just yet. He's remained on the C's bench, and he's being attended to by trainer Ed Lacerte.
Halftime, Celtics 44-37: The Celtics close the first half on a 17-4 run, solidifying their lead heading into the locker room. They're short four starters, but the guys who are playing are looking good.
Jeff Green, Jermaine O'Neal and Delonte West have been the stars of the show for Boston. O'Neal has 11 points and eight rebounds; Green likewise has 10 and eight. Delonte West is threatening a triple-double with a dazzling 11-5-5 stat line. He's got two blocks and a steal to boot.
John Wall puts up a 13-3-3 for the Wizards, holding his own against D-West.
This has been a fun game despite the Celtics' four missing All-Stars. If they can win, it'll be a nice statement about the state of their bench going into the playoffs.
Second quarter, 3:02, Celtics 39-33: Now it's a 12-0 Celtic run. Green has nine points and seven boards.
Game. Of. Runs.
On the defensive end of the floor, meanwhile, the C's have really done a good job of containing John Wall. Not "slowing him down," per se, since that's pretty much impossible, but they're keeping a body on him and limiting his looks at the basket. Wall is now 3-of-7 from the field.
Second quarter, 4:38, Celtics 35-33: What a bizarre second quarter. Now it's the Celtics' turn — it's an 8-0 run, and they've seized control again.
Delonte West pours in all eight points for Boston. He's now got 11, plus four assists, four rebounds, a block and a steal. Ridiculous.
Jeff Green has also been solid, with eight points and six boards. Those two go together so well.
Second quarter, 5:46, Wizards 33-27: It's now a 21-4 run for the Wizards. Jermaine O'Neal and Sasha Pavlovic have each scored in the last two minutes, but the Celtics' offense is still sputtering. They're not getting good looks at the basket.
The C's starters have four years of experience running their sets together and moving the ball unselfishly. The guys currently on the floor? Well, they've had a couple practices.
It's easy to take for granted how well the Celtics' starters play together. This game is a nice reminder.
Second quarter, 8:44, Wizards 28-23: Now it's a 16-0 run for the Wizards. The last time the C's scored a point, Doc Rivers still had hair.
If they lose this game, blame the coach. He chose to rest his starters, knowing he might be punting a chance for home-court in the second round of the playoffs.
This dominant Wizards performance really makes you think twice about sitting the big four. Every NBA team can beat you if you don't put up a fight.
Second quarter, 9:50, Wizards 25-23: If the guys who started this game make up the second unit, then this is like unit 2.7. Sasha Pavlovic, Troy Murphy and Carlos Arroyo are seeing some extended run together. It's not going well. This unit can't score.
The Celtics have missed 15 of their last 19 shots. It's a 13-0 Washington run.
End of first quarter, Celtics 23-19: The game of runs continues. The Wizards rattle off seven unanswered points to close the first quarter, and they're starting to make this look competitive.
John Wall now leads all scorers with 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting — he's using his speed and aggressive mindset to score in the paint at will. He's an exciting player to watch.
The C's bigs are fueling the offense so far, with six points each from Jermaine O'Neal and Jeff Green. But Green has already had to take 10 shots, and the C's have also been blocked three times by JaVale McGee. So the news isn't all good for Boston's post scorers.
First quarter, 2:36, Celtics 23-12: For the first time in nearly a month, we're getting a good look at Avery Bradley. The lone rookie on the C's roster is getting some run in the first quarter.
Watching Bradley against John Wall is a treat. Just two young, incredibly athletic guards going back and forth. This is great.
First quarter, 5:25, Celtics 12-7: Sneakily, it's a 5-0 run for the Wizards. John Wall and Andray Blatche each have it going offensively.
Let's see if the Celtics' reserves are better at buckling down to hold a lead than the starters have been this past month.
First quarter, 6:09, Celtics 12-3: Amid an absolutely ugly first quarter for the Wizards, here's one bright spot: JaVale McGee is quite the athlete. He can block shots like a champion.
McGee just stuffed Von Wafer and forced a jump ball. That's his third block in six minutes.
He's an instinctive shot blocker, and he makes smarter basketball plays than say, Dwight Howard. Rather than swat the ball out of bounds, he either tries to swat it to a teammate or force a held-ball situation. Wise man.
First quarter, 9:17, Celtics 10-2: The C's have come out aggressive early. Everyone's charging to the basket and getting layups — even Jermaine O'Neal.
These reserve guys are hungry for a chance to prove themselves to Doc Rivers. Right now, Doc looks like a genius for giving them that chance.
First quarter, 11:53, Celtics 2-0: The C's are without four starters, but they start strong anyway. Jermaine O'Neal wins the opening tip, Delonte West corrals it, and Jeff Green quickly strikes with the first basket of the ballgame.
It's only been seven seconds, but this lineup looks good so far. Let's see if they can build some momentum.
7:10 p.m.: The starting five is now official — it'll be Delonte West, Von Wafer, Jeff Green, Glen Davis and Jermaine O'Neal giving it a go for Boston.
I guess that means no Paul Pierce.
That's just as well. The captain needs to keep his legs fresh for the postseason.
6:30 p.m.: Doc Rivers has addressed the media, and he says he's shutting his guys down. No Ray Allen, no Kevin Garnett and no Rajon Rondo tonight against the Wiz.
Paul Pierce is the question mark. He wants to play, but smart money says P gives up his fight with Doc and takes a seat. No need to rock the boat between coach and captain at this point in the season.
Time to get a nice, long look at the bench guys.
6 p.m.: We already know not to expect anything tonight from Shaquille O'Neal, who stayed home from the road trip and is questionable to play Wednesday in the C's season finale. But what about the other O'Neal?
Jermaine has been hesitant to play complete back-to-backs, taking time in between starts to rest his sore knees. But with the playoffs approaching and the veteran big man trying to find his rhythm, Doc Rivers may try pushing J.O. a little bit, hoping to get a little more out of him before season's end.
So how much time does he see? Twenty minutes? None at all? Somewhere in between?
We'll soon find out.
8 a.m.: The Celtics let their guard down this weekend against the two top teams in the Eastern Conference, and, unsurprisingly, it cost them dearly. After a pair of rather embarrassing lopsided losses, one Thursday in Chicago and another Sunday in Miami, the C's know where they stand. They're out of the running for No. 1 in the conference, realistically looking like a probable No. 3.
And they're not exactly surprised that they got jumped this weekend.
"Those are two of the top teams in the East," Kevin Garnett said. "You've got to expect that. You've got to expect coming in that you're not going to get the calls. You've got to expect that they'd give you their best.
"You beat a team three times," he continued, referring to the Heat. "What other team did you expect to show up?"
This is that time of year again — everyone in the NBA is dialing it up, getting into playoff form and the Celtics are once again looking troublingly inconsistent.
Now they've only got two games left to correct that trend. First up is Monday night as the C's take on the Washington Wizards on the road in day two of a back-to-back. This is their final back-to-back this season, and they're 8-10 so far on day two.
They close out the season at home against the Knicks on Wednesday night.
We'll see how focused the Celtics are on these last two. At this point, it's anyone's guess.
"They do mean something to us," Ray Allen said of these final games. "They're games that we have to play, and we always want to win them. But we hope that we've got bigger fish to fry."