Celtics, Wizards limiting starters for different reasons

Field Level Media

April 08, 2019 at 8:45 pm.

After watching two starters leave the court with injuries on Sunday, Boston coach Brad Stevens will rest a number of players in Tuesday’s regular-season finale in Washington against the Wizards.

The Celtics (48-33) learned before Sunday’s tip-off that their playoff seating was set; they will host the fifth-seeded Indiana Pacers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. They proceeded to drop a 116-108 decision to an Orlando Magic team that clinched its first playoff berth in seven years with the win.

Small forward Jayson Tatum suffered a shin contusion six minutes into the game and shooting guard Marcus Smart was helped off the court late in the third quarter with what Stevens later described as a bruise of his oblique muscle.

“The point of tonight was to try to get a true, kind of, game for some of our starters,” Stevens told the Boston Herald. “And our top seven or eight guys. But those guys will play a lot less on Tuesday, if at all.”

The Magic took an 83-78 lead after three quarters and opened the fourth with an 11-2 run. Boston eventually tied the score at 106 on a 3-pointer by Kyrie Irving but the Magic pulled away late.

Irving had 23 points for Boston and Al Horford finished with 18. Reserve Gordon Hayward added 16 points on 8-of-14 shooting and has scored in double figures in eight straight games.

“We were definitely trying to win the game and go into the playoffs playing our best basketball,” Hayward told the Herald. “They hit some tough shots tonight. You could tell they’re playing for something, and credit to them they played well.”

There won’t be any playoffs for the 11th-place Wizards (32-49), whose playoff pursuit ended several weeks back. Those who venture to Capital One Arena Tuesday night will watch the conclusion of Washington’s worst campaign since a 29-53 outcome in 2012-13.

Washington barely saw center Dwight Howard (nine games) and All-Star point guard John Wall played just 32 games before his season ended because of left heel surgery followed by an Achilles tendon tear. The Wizards traded forwards Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr. during the season.

Coach Scott Brooks’ team is 29th out of 30 teams in rebounding differential (-5) and points allowed per game (116.9).

Washington has lost eight of its past 10 and dropped their third straight game, 113-110, to the New York Knicks on Sunday. The loss ended the Wizards’ nine-game winning streak at Madison Square Garden. The Wizards finished the season 10-31 on the road.

Jeff Green had 19 points in 16 minutes for Washington, which has lost three straight. Thomas Bryant added 17 points and Bobby Portis contributed 11 points and 10 rebounds. Bradley Beal had 13 points in 23 minutes.

The Knicks won it with a 34-21 fourth quarter as Brooks utilized mainly his young players and reserves in the final 12 minutes.

“We’re not going to the playoffs,” Brooks said after the game. “We’ve known that for some time now. Now it’s time for these guys to get some more opportunities. … It was a great opportunity for all of us to be in this situation.”

Rookie Troy Brown Jr. had 13 points and eight rebounds in 36 minutes. Chasson Randle had 11 points and Devin Robinson scored 10.

“This is good practice for them,” Beal said. “Troy made a big shot down the stretch. … Definitely weird and different since we know where we’re at in the season, but it’s important for the young guys get more reps.”

Washington’s Jordan McRae (sore left Achilles) and Jabari Parker (sprained left knee) missed Sunday’s game and are day-to-day heading to the finale.

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