Despite a resilient victory Friday, the Boston Celtics aren't out of the woods yet. The team seeks its first winning streak in more than a month when it hosts the Washington Wizards on Sunday night.
The Celtics were victorious 118-112 over the Indiana Pacers last time out -- a game in which theytrailed by 14 less than five minutes in. The win snapped a three-game losing streak and was just Boston's fourth in its last 12 outings.
"It's good to get a win on a day that ends in 'Y' right now," coach Brad Stevens said postgame.
The Celtics' recent funk saw the team slip below .500 and temporarily out of playoff standing in the Eastern Conference. A win Sunday would even its record and represent a measure of revenge after Boston fell 104-91 at Washington on Feb. 14.
That victory kicked off a stretch of seven wins in eight games for the Wizards. Washington defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 128-112 at home Saturday night.
"It means a lot," said Wizards star Bradley Beal of the team's recent success. "It's big for everybody. It's big for our confidence moving forward. We know our schedule gets tough. At the same time, we still know we haven't done much. We haven't done anything. That's what I keep telling our guys.
"We still have a lot of work we need to do -- things we need to get better at and clean up -- and we still need to win more games. That's the ultimate goal."
Sunday's meeting will be the last of three between the clubs this season. The Celtics were victorious 116-107 at home on Jan. 8.
It's been since Jan. 24-25 that Boston has won back-to-back games. With All-Stars Jayson Tatum (nine points on 4-of-18 shooting) and Jaylen Brown (15 points, 5-of-12 shooting) each struggling against the Pacers on Friday, Kemba Walker stepped up with a season-high 32 points to give the team a much-needed reason to celebrate.
"We've got to keep it together," said Walker of enduring the tough stretch. "We can't let nobody go in any other direction. ... Things might not be going as well as we would like it at the moment, but things could change really fast, so the only way you can get out of struggles is by doing it together."
The Celtics further received key contributions from Jeff Teague (14 points) and Robert Williams III (14 points, 11 rebounds) off the bench. Teague's production was especially notable after a stretch of did-not-plays earlier in the week.
For the Wizards, it was the usual suspects at work in Saturday's win over the Timberwolves. Beal scored 34 points, and Russell Westbrook backed him up with a 19-point, 14-rebound, 12-assist triple-double -- his 10th of the season, setting a franchise record.
Davis Bertans also scored 19 points after missing the team's previous contest with a knee injury. Reserve guard Raul Neto sustained a left knee contusion late in the matchup and did not return.
--Field Level Media