Washington Wizards v. Boston Celtics Christmas Preview

BOSTON, MA - MAY 15: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards drives out front of Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics during Game Seven of the NBA Eastern Conference Semi-Finals at TD Garden on May 15, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 15: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards drives out front of Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics during Game Seven of the NBA Eastern Conference Semi-Finals at TD Garden on May 15, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
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BOSTON, MA – MAY 15: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards drives out front of Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics during Game Seven of the NBA Eastern Conference Semi-Finals at TD Garden on May 15, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA – MAY 15: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards drives out front of Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics during Game Seven of the NBA Eastern Conference Semi-Finals at TD Garden on May 15, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

The Washington Wizards travel to Boston for a Christmas cross-up with the Celtics. Here’s a break down of the Wizards’ wish list.

It’s the holiday season, and the Washington Wizards will have plenty of seasons greetings for their Eastern Conference foe, the Boston Celtics on Christmas day. They’ll use the national stage as a perfect setting for the their first matchup of the season.

Boston (27-9) boasts the best record in the conference, while Washington (18-15) will look to climb up the standings, fresh off their most convincing win of the season.

Though the Celtics look a bit different from the last time the two teams squared off in May, there’s still no love lost between them.

Here’s what should be on every Wizards fan’s Christmas list ahead of the big game.

Wall outduels Kyrie

John Wall is always up for a challenge, especially if it involves a player that gets more national recognition than he does.

On Monday evening, Wall will get his chance to prove his worth against Boston’s Kyrie Irving.

Irving is one of the more potent offensive threats in the NBA. He ranks ninth overall in points per game (24.9), and the Celtics go as he goes. According to ESPN.com stats, Irving’s ORPM rating (a player’s estimated on-court impact on team offensive performance) is the third-highest in the league, trailing only Stephen Curry and James Harden.

Much like Harden and Curry, once Irving heats up, it’s hard to cool him off. He’s a capable passer, so if too much attention is thrown his way, he’ll set up easy opportunities for his teammates. Irving has the ability to break the defense down off the dribble, get into the lane and finish. He’s also just as apt to come off screens and hit open or contested jumpers.

Wall will have his hands full and has to use his length to make it tough for Irving to get good looks. He’ll also need to be aggressive on the offensive end so Irving won’t be able to rest while his outstanding defensive group operates.

Cracking the Celtics’ Defense

Boston’s defense has been formidable, historically, and this year they’ve regained dominance. They currently rank second in the league in opponents points, giving up just over 98 per contest. No other team has a better defensive rating (102.7). Boston has posted these stingy numbers despite not having a player rank in the top 30 in steals or blocks.

Behind coach Brad Stevens, the Celtics are a selfless, hard-working gang that competes on every possession.

Washington fans are hoping that the team will bring some of their hot shooting from Saturday’s win, where they hit 16 three-pointers and scored 130 points. Though that type of production isn’t expected, the Wizards will need to avoid droughts.

Their best strategy in breaking through the Boston defense will be tempo. The Celtics play at one of the slowest paces (rank 23rd) in the league. Washington needs to get defensive rebounds and let Wall push the pace. That creates easy scoring opportunities for Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre Jr., and whoever else runs the floor.

Bench Contributions

Oubre and the bench unit will be one of the most important keys to victory in this one. What was once a much-maligned group, has now transformed into a formidable bunch. Mike Scott has been incredible, no matter how many minutes he plays. Scott has been efficiently scoring at will and ranks sixth in the league in field goal percentage.

Currently, the Wizards (35.8) bench is producing more points per game than the Celtics (30.3) bench.  The Celtics bench shoots poorly and according to NBA.com stats, ranks dead last in field goal percentage.

If the Wizards bench has another good showing both offensively and defensively, the team will be in good shape.

Get your eggnog and hot cocoa ready. This one will be a perfect present for basketball fans. The action starts at 5:30 p.m. on ABC.