Celtics

Here’s who the Celtics will face in Tuesday’s play-in game (and what happens if they lose)

The Celtics take on the Wizards on Tuesday. What happens if they lose?

Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum (0) shoots the go-ahead basket against Washington Wizards' Rui Hachimura (8) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The Celtics didn’t expect to be in the play-in tournament, but they find themselves facing a red-hot Washington Wizards team on Tuesday as part of the 7 vs. 8 seed play-in game after the Wizards took down the Hornets in the last game of the regular season.

Washington has won 16 of its last 22 games and the team enters the playoffs with plenty of momentum. Here’s what to know about the Wizards, what happens if the Celtics win, and what happens if they lose.

How good are the Wizards?

This is a complicated question that almost entirely depends on whether you buy the Wizards’ recent success. Before April, the Wizards had the net rating (and record) of a bad team with a shot at a good lottery pick. In April and May, however, the Wizards put together a net rating of 6.9, which is near contender level — the No. 1 seed Philadelphia 76ers, by way of comparison have a net rating of 5.4.

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Bradley Beal is dealing with a hamstring injury, but he scored 25 points in Sunday’s win over the Hornets. Russell Westbrook has averaged a triple-double over the last three months, including a monstrous 26.3 points, 13.8 rebounds and 16.1 assists in his last nine games.

What happens if the Celtics win?

If the Celtics win, they face the No. 2 seed Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

What happens if the Celtics lose?

If the Celtics lose, they face the winner of the play-in game between the Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets. The loser of that play-in game is eliminated from postseason contention.

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If the Celtics lose to the Wizards and beat the Pacers/Hornets, they take on the No. 1 seed Philadelphia 76ers in the first round.

What happens if the Celtics lose again?

If the Celtics lose twice in a row, their season is over and they will enter the draft lottery.

The Celtics and Wizards tip off at 9 p.m. on Tuesday. The game will be broadcast nationally on TNT.

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