After the San Antonio Spurs’ demolition of the Houston Rockets on Thursday night, attention shifted to Washington. The Washington Wizards, down 3-2 to the Boston Celtics, tried to extend their season and force Game 7 back in Boston. In an absolute thriller of a game, the Wizards emerged victorious, 102-101.
It was a tightly contested game throughout all 48 minutes. After leading by double digits early in the game, Washington allowed the Celtics to crawl back and gain the lead. After halftime, Boston controlled the game. There were one too many easy baskets for the Celtics, with Washington taking some poor shots and Celtics players essentially cherry picking easy points on the fast break. Avery Bradley played another strong Game, following his impressive Game 5 performance with 27 points and some strong defense to boot. Despite Boston’s sturdy execution, Washington didn’t give in.
The fourth quarter saw some great coaching and great individual play. With under two minutes left in the game, Isaiah Thomas (I heard he’s pretty good in fourth quarters) brought a game deadlocked at 82-82 to 87-82 after two huge buckets. With 1:25 left in the game, Washington promptly turned the ball over on a John Wall charge call off of a timeout. The play was initially called a blocking foul, but it was overturned. Washington had their back against the Wall (no pun intended, but that sounded really cool.)
Washington showed grit and intensity, despite the game – and the season – on the line. Bradley Beal made his first three-point shot of the game with 1:09 left in the game. Despite the poor shooting from deep (1-of-8), Beal contributed in a major way, leading the team and scoring 33 points. Beal was able to make some clutch baskets, darting off of screens and making some tough shots, even though he was cold from three.
Wall tied the game up with two free throws. But Boston’s execution was flawless. Brad Stevens called two great plays out of timeouts, first setting up Avery Bradley for a wide-open long two-pointer. Brad Stevens' play was a creative down-screen for Bradley, with most of the Wizards' attention locked in on denying an inbounds pass to Isaiah Thomas. The Celtics took a 91-89 lead after another out of bounds play with Al Horford taking advantage of a switch onto John Wall, sinking a miraculous off-glass shot that rose some fans’ blood pressure.
Off of another timeout, John Wall did this…
Call it a bad shot, call it hero ball, but above all else, call it a game winner. Wall’s heroic three-pointer edged the game for the Wizards. Markieff Morris was able to contest an Isaiah Thomas heave to seal the game. Washington's defense came up big in a major way, able to stop an Isaiah Thomas onslaught and holding him to 8-24 shooting despite his 27 points. Additionally, Boston's bench only scored 5 points, surely hurting their chances to win the game. Horford, Bradley, and Thomas combined for 74 of Boston's points, but those strong performances were dampened by weak play from the rest of the Celtics.
The game was emotional and intense, but also a sigh of relief for the Wizards, who were outmatched and outclassed in Game 6.
John Wall's Continued Greatness
The game was a tale of two halves for John Wall. Wall had a stinky first half, going 1-of-9 from the field in the first half of Game 6. As many have noted, the Wizards may only go as far as John Wall takes them. Whenever Wall probed into the lane, he was surrounded and essentially engulfed by green jerseys. Luckily, Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris were able to pick up the slack left by Wall, and with Otto Porter left scoreless in his 36 minutes on the floor.
Wall came alive in the second half. His speed was brilliant, and legitimately – terrifying. His size and his speed were a sight to behold, finally free to dash into the lane at will. Here’s Wall spinning to the cup – one of his many second half highlights…
The spin, the speed, the finish – were all beautiful. It's John Wall at his best.
Wall continued to stake his claim as a top tier point guard – and of the best players in the 2017 NBA Playoffs as a whole. Wall even showed some nice leadership at the end, instructing Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat to switch on the final possession – possibly mucking things up a bit for Brad Stevens’ play call. And to cap it off, Wall did his best Daredevil/Batman/Green Arrow impression, proclaiming that it was “his city” after the huge win.
Orginal Gangsta John Wall was on full display at the end of Game 6. It was an emotional roller coaster – but Washington saved their season with a tough victory. The series will move to Game 7 on Monday in Boston. After the monstrous victory, Washington will try to seal the series in Boston. The brilliance of Wall and Beal – and the solid play of the rest of the team - could propel the Wizards to a series victory in Game 7.