In a game where grit stood tallest, it was John Wall’s game winning three that lifted Washington over Boston 92-91 to force a pivotal Game 7. Boston showed up to the game wearing all black as if it was going to be Washington’s “funeral.” The Wizards had a “funeral” game earlier this season against Boston and they won big, the Celtics came to the Verizon Center last night hoping to return the favor. Wall, Beal and the Wizards had other ideas.
Here is the shot that shut down the Verizon Center:
On a night where Washington could not hit a three to save their lives, it was the Wizards dominance in the paint that help them escape with the win. Behind seven blocks and out-rebounding Boston by nine, Washington was able to control the paint and force the Celtics into forced threes (Boston finished 11 for 35 from deep).
Looking at the team stats, Washington should not have won this game. They only hit 5 of 24 threes on the night, Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat scored four points combined. Boston’s backcourt (Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas) combined for 54 points and Washington was trailing by five with a little over a minute left in the game. Al Horford was dominant again over Gortat, finishing with 20 points and six rebounds. The Celtics even forced Washington into 12 turnovers. Regardless of all those numbers in Boston’s favor, Washington’s will to win was evident and is a big reason as to why this series is headed back to Boston.
Wall struggled mightily in the first half. He could not find a rhythm and missed at the rim at several occasions, having three points on 1 of 9 shooting at the half. Things changed drastically in the second half, finishing the night with 26 points and 8 assists on the night. Wall was also huge on defense in the fourth quarter, getting two key blocks on both Thomas and Avery and hitting a clutch pair of free throws to tie the game late (before hitting the game winner).
Bradley Beal has struggled to find his shot this entire series, but he came up huge on the night. Beal finished with a game high 33 points while shooting 57 percent. The sharp shooter only hit one three in the game, but was abusing defenders from mid-range and in the paint. Yes, Washington has had their problems on the road (especially in Boston,) but last night should give the Wizards hope moving forward. It is unlikely that Porter goes scoreless again and Wall probably won’t go into the half with only three points. It will take a defensive effort like no other to stop Boston’s shooters from catching fire and containing Thomas at home (where he does have a 50+ point game in this series.) Washington has not been to the Conference Finals since the late 1970’s, so they need to quiet passed demons (and the Celtics home crowd) it they want to end the second longest conference finals drought in the NBA.
Game 7 are the two greatest words in sports and on Monday, May 15 at 8pm Eastern, both teams will put it all on the line for a chance to face the Cavaliers for a chance for a NBA Finals berth.