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Observations from the Celtics’ win over the Wizards

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum drove to the hoop in a first quarter that ended with the score tied at 34.BARRY CHIN/GLOBE STAFF/Globe Staff

The Celtics defeated the Wizards on Wednesday, 140-133, to claim their ninth win in a row. It was the franchise’s highest scoring total since pouring in 150 in November 1992.

Kemba Walker led a balanced Boston attack with 25 points. Jayson Tatum added 23 and Jaylen Brown had 22. Rookie Carsen Edwards, meanwhile, came off the bench to score a season-high 18 points.

The Wizards somewhat methodically trimmed a 16-point deficit to 137-133 with 1:17 left, but Walker then drilled a 3-pointer and the Wizards did not score again.

On basketball: Isaiah Thomas is trying to make the most of what may be his final chance


Here are some observations:

■  Just 13 seconds into the game, Marcus Smart instantly posted up Isaiah Thomas, his former teammate, and scored over him. But Thomas answered at the other end and hit a 17-footer, as he is used to doing.

■  Tatum was just 1 for 18 in the Celtics’ win over the Mavericks on Monday, and afterward he went back to the team’s training facility for a late-night shooting session to get rid of the cobwebs. It seems like it might have helped. Less than two minutes into the game, he had already made more field goals (two) then he did against Dallas. Tatum was 7 for 13 in the first half.

■  Centers Daniel Theis (finger) and Robert Williams (ankle) missed Wednesday’s game, giving Enes Kanter a more prominent role. Kanter missed seven games with a knee contusion before returning Monday. He certainly has some defensive limitations, but he put his strengths on display against Washington, particularly in the first half. During one stretch he tussled for an offensive rebound, scored inside on an alley-oop layup, drew a foul fighting for another offensive rebound, and drew a foul on a shot. Kanter is certainly Boston’s most physical force in the paint.


■  For long stretches of the first half the Wizards alternated between man-to-man defenses after missed shots and zone after made shots, usually when Thomas was on the floor. The Celtics didn’t have much trouble finding open looks against the zone, but they didn’t convert them at a high rate.

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■  Before the game, Wizards coach Scott Brooks talked about harnessing Mo Wagner’s unusual energy and excitement during games. One unusual example: When Kanter was called for a harmless three-second violation, Wagner celebrated like it was a game-winning shot.

■  The Celtics missed the long arms and shot-blocking prowess of Williams and Theis. The Wizards had little trouble bursting to the rim and converting once they got there. But Washington’s defense is, well, awful, so it didn’t end up mattering.

■  Grant Williams had a wide-open 3-point attempt from the top of the key in the first half, but it missed. He’s now 0 for 14 on the season. He hit that shot in summer league and the preseason, so it’s fair to wonder if the struggles have gotten into his head a bit.

■  Thomas still has some of his offensive burst, or can at least find creative ways to score. But it’s tough to watch him on the defensive end. He was never a powerful defender, but it’s clear that he just can’t move as quickly or fluidly as he once did.


■  Thomas did have one defensive win in the first half, however. With the clock running down, he ended up isolated on Tatum neat the top of the key. But Thomas contested the shot well and forced a bad miss, and offered a bit of a smiling glare at Boston’s bench as he walked off the court.

■  Brown looked like he was headed toward his first real offensive dud of the season when he missed his first five shots and finished the first half with just one made field goal. But then he made five shots in a row in the first four minutes of the third quarter.

■  Pretty cool: When Thomas went to the foul line late in the game with his team down by double digits, there was a smattering of “MVP” chants from those who clearly remember how he used to electrify this building. Thomas finished with 18 points.

■  Bradley Beal deserves better than this Wizards roster. He is a star, and he had 44 points on 17-of-27 shooting, and he did not have nearly enough help.

Related: Javonte Green has a real opportunity with the Celtics

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.