The Boston Celtics return from a four-game road trip and play their first home game of the New Year on Friday against the Washington Wizards, but the Celtics will be extremely short-handed in the frontcourt as Tristan Thompson, Robert Williams and Grant Williams are all facing seven-day quarantines in the NBA's COVID-19 protocols. Washington, meanwhile, expects to have Russell Westbrook in the lineup despite a finger injury. Boston is a 6-point favorite on the William Hill Sportsbook NBA odds.
In Washington's 141-136 loss in Philadelphia on Wednesday, Westbrook dislocated a finger on his right hand but still finished with 20 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds and three steals – but also six turnovers. Frankly, dislocated fingers aren't all that uncommon in the NBA and guys often can play through them.
Westbrook typically sits one game of a back-to-back, and the Wizards also play Saturday at home vs. Miami. Westbrook is not listed on Washington's injury report for Friday, so presumably he will be in there. He's averaging 20.5 points, 11.8 assists and 10.7 rebounds but also a whopping 5.0 turnovers per game.
What will the Wizards' Bradley Beal do for an encore here? He tied the franchise record with 60 points in Sunday's loss; the previous 60-point effort in franchise history was by Gilbert Arenas in 2006, and he had to play into overtime to get it. Beal scored 57 points in the first three quarters, including 25 in the third quarter alone. That was the highest scoring quarter by a player this season. Beal faced Boston just once last season and had 44 points.
As for those Celtics, Robert Williams reportedly has tested positive for COVID, and Grant Williams and Tristan Thompson are considered close contacts and out for contract tracing. Thompson has started every game and is averaging 8.4 points and 8.5 rebounds in 23.1 minutes. Robert Williams is averaging 6.8 points and 6.5 rebounds in 16.4 minutes. Grant Williams is putting up 5.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in 19.1 minutes.
That trio being out leaves Daniel Theis and Tacko Fall as the team's only likely traditional big men. Theis has played in every game and gets 21.8 minutes a night (7.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg) but the 7-foot-6 Fall has played in just one game. Of course, Boston remains without All-Star point guard Kemba Walker, who has yet to debut this year because of offseason surgery.
It's the first meeting of the season between the Wizards and Celtics. Washington has covered the spread in just two of its past 14 trips to Boston.
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