So close. But still so far.
John Wall’s rainbow from 26 feet over Avery Bradley fell through the basket with 3.5 seconds left to give the Wizards a 92-91 win over the stunned Celtics in Game 6 Friday night at the Verizon Center.
The prayer of a three sets up a Game 7 Monday night at TD Garden as the Wizards become the first home team to win an elimination on their home court in 11 tries this postseason.
Isaiah Thomas’ desperation three at the buzzer clanged off the rim to set up the second Game 7 of these NBA playoffs.
Al Horford’s bad angle bank shot with 7.7 seconds broke a tie and appeared to have sent the Celtics to the Eastern finals against LeBron for the first time since 2012. But instead, a winner-take-all Game 7 will decide matters in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Wall was ice-cold for the first three quarters before heating up when it mattered most. He and Isaiah Thomas reprised their Game 2 battle with each taking turns making big shots down the stretch. Thomas and Wall each had 10 points in the fourth quarter. But the difference might have been Beal, who scored 13 of his game-high 33 in the final period.
The Celtics came dressed to kill in all black wardrobes on their way to the locker room, something not unnoticed by Wall, as he spoke to ESPN’s Lisa Salters moments after the game-winning shot.
“I ain’t going home. Don’t come to my city, wearing all black, talking about a funeral,” Wall said. “We worked too hard for this. All we ask for is a Game 7, 50-50.”
“Great shot by a great player,” Brad Stevens said of the Wall game-winner. “We’re going to guard it as hard as we can. We’re going to shake his hand and move on.”
The Celtics were led by Thomas and Bradley, each pouring in 27 while Horford had 20. In addition to Beal’s 33, Wall scored 26 for the Wizards, who are now one win from their first Eastern finals appearance since 1979.
Despite shooting just 4-for-17 in the first quarter and getting manhandled in the paint, the Celtics were able to stay close, trailing just 22-17 heading into the second quarter.
Down 26-19 in the second quarter, the Celtics scored the next seven points, capped by an Avery Bradley three.
(Click here for a complete box score of Game 6)
The Celtics caught another big break when Wizards big man Marcin Gortat picked up his third personal foul with 7:27 left in the first half.
Isaiah Thomas again on Bradley Beal, the Wizards were more effective taking advantage of that matchup, scoring 14 points in the first half. But Beal disappeared for the final five minutes of the first half.
Foul trouble caught up with the Celtics as well in the first half as Kelly Olynyk picked up his third with 4:47 left in the half. The three-point play was part of an 11-2 run from the Wizards that put them ahead 39-30.
Wednesday night, the Celtics took full advantage of the distribution from Isaiah Thomas, hitting wide-open threes and midrange shots. That was not the case early in Game 6. The Celtics missed 13 of of their first 16 shots from beyond the arc before Isaiah Thomas’ three with three minutes left in the second quarter.
That three sparked a huge 10-0 run that tied the game, 40-40, in the final minute of the first half. Jaylen Brown’s offensive rebounding was a difference-maker. His offensive rebound with 45 second left led to a Crowder layup that tied the game. Then Marcus Smart found Avery Bradley with a perfect pass leading to an alley-oop dunk with seven seconds left, giving the Celtics the 42-41 halftime lead, their first lead since 2-0 to open the game.
The Celtics shot just 35 percent in the first half but allowed just three points in transition. The other huge factor in the first half was Avery Bradley’s defense on John Wall, holding the Wizards point guard to just 1-for-9 from the field.
While the Celtics were uncharacteristically cold from 3-point range, the Wizards were abysmal from beyond the arc, missing 13 of their first 14 attempts. They missed 14 straight attempts and went without a field goal for a seven minute span from the second quarter to the third as the Celtics went on an 18-3 run to take a 48-43 lead.
The Celtics did a solid job of playing with the lead for the remainder of the quarter, maintain a 3-5 point lead most of the way and taking a 69-66 lead into the final quarter.
With John Wall resting on the bench to start the fourth quarter, Bradley Beal converted two straight baskets, including a driving layup with 9:46 left to give Washington its first lead since the first half at 70-69. But Avery Bradley hit his fourth three in five attempts to give Boston lead again. Beal came back with his third driving layup to tie the game.
Isaiah Thomas hit a fadeaway midrange jumper with 2:08 to give Boston an 84-82 lead. His three with 1:34 left put the Celtics up, 87-82. After Marcus Smart took a charge on John Wall, Thomas was trapped and turned the ball over, leading to a transition three from Beal with 1:09 left. John Wall hit two free throws with 41.2 seconds left to tie the game at 87.
Bradley came back with a jumper out of a Stevens timeout for the lead with 39 seconds left, only to have Beal answer for an 89-89 tie. The Celtics called a timeout with 14.1 seconds left to set up the final possession of regulation.
Horford hit his amazing shot before Wall outdid him for the win.
Full article @ John Wall lifts Wizards over Celtics with dramatic 3 to force Game 7, takes shot at Celtics postgame
Source: GreenStreet Blog