The Washington Wizards aren’t oblivious. Neither are the Milwaukee Bucks or the Miami Heat. They are well aware the Boston Celtics aren’t the same team without Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis.
So, it stands to reason the Wizards, Bucks and Heat would do everything they can to land the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference, setting up a first-round playoff series against Boston while avoiding the top-seeded Toronto Raptors, surging Philadelphia 76ers and always-dangerous Cleveland Cavaliers.
“That’s just such a bunch of garbage,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks told the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett on Tuesday night when posed that same question. “(The Celtics are) winning games. They’ve got good players. They’ve got a good coach. They’re still winning games.
“Everybody says you should want to play them, but that’s garbage.”
Boston hasn’t been doing much winning lately — its 113-101 loss to Washington on Tuesday was its fifth in six games — but Brooks’ point is well taken. The C’s have managed to stay afloat despite losing Irving, securing the No. 2 seed in the East thanks to strong play from guys like Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
“Fortunately for them, Rozier’s a starting point guard,” Brooks added. “They had him as the sixth man because Kyrie (Irving) was there, but that guy’s a starting point guard. We had that same situation in Oklahoma (with the Thunder). Reggie Jackson was a potential starting point guard, but he came off our bench.”
If you look past Brooks’ tire-pumping, though, the Wizards should be happy if they draw the C’s. Boston hasn’t beaten Washington in regulation this season (1-3 with an overtime win), as animosity that developed between the clubs last year appears to be benefiting the Wizards.
“We play hard against each other,” Brooks added. “There’s a reason why both teams want to compete against each other. I don’t know if it’s a rivalry. I mean, Boston’s had a lot of success to consider us a rival. We’ve only played each other once in the playoffs.”
Brooks insists his team isn’t trying to draw the Celtics again. Do you believe him?
Thumbnail photo via Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports Images
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