Celtics vs. Wizards play-in game: Bradley Beal's health, Jaylen Brown's absence could play big factors

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Three things to know as Boston and Washington clash in Tuesday's East play-in game
Heading into the 2020-21 NBA season, it's safe to say the Boston Celtics did not expect to be competing in the league's freshly instituted play-in tournament in order to qualify for postseason play. They were fresh off an Eastern Conference finals appearance in the Orlando bubble, and entered this season expected to contend for a high seed. As for the Washington Wizards, they pulled off a blockbuster trade over the offseason in which they landed Russell Westbrook to pair with Bradley Beal. In other words, there was plenty of optimism surrounding both squads.

However, due to a combination of injury issues, COVID protocols and chemistry concerns, neither the Celtics nor the Wizards got off to an especially strong start, and in turn both teams struggled to find consistency over the course of the campaign. The Wizards have played much better ball since the All-Star break, but they still finished the season under .500 (34-38), while the Celtics finished at exactly .500 (36-36) -- their worst winning percentage since the 2014-15 season. As a result, the two teams have to square off against each other in the first round of the play-in tournament.

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The winner of the game between Boston and Washington will secure the seventh seed in the East, and a first-round matchup with the Brooklyn Nets. The loser will have to play the winner of the 9 vs. 10 play-in game between the Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets. The winner of that contest will be the East's eighth seed and face the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. Here's…
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