TD Garden | Game 7 | 8pm | TNT | 1500 AM |
Wizards: G - Wall, G - Beal, F - Porter, F - Morris, C - Gortat
Celtics: G - Thomas, G - Bradley, F - Crowder, F - Johnson, C - Horford
Series So Far
Game 1: Wizards 111 - Celtics 123
The Wizards began the game about as strong as they could have hoped, opening on a 16-0 run and then led 22-5 early in the first. The Celtics worked their way back into the game and cut it to five at the half, but it was the third quarter when things really got out of hand for the Wizards. The C's outscored the Wiz 36-16 in the third quarter and despite a fourth quarter run from Washington, the lead was too large to overcome and Boston took Game 1. Bradley Beal led the Wiz with 27 points, John Wall added 20p-16a, while both Marcin Gortat (16p-13r) and Otto Porter (16p-11r) finished with double doubles.
Game 2: Wizards 119 - Celtics 129 (OT)
John Wall went for 40p-13a, but it wasn't quite enough as the Wizards fell 129-119 to the Celtics in an overtime thriller on Tuesday night in Boston. Isaiah Thomas scored 29 of his playoff career-high 53 points in the fourth quarter and overtime and was the difference down the stretch. The Wizards had double digit leads in both the first and second halves, but each time the Celtics were able to mount a comeback and eventually took command in the final few minutes of overtime.
Game 3: Celtics 89 - Wizards 116
After the score was tied at 12 midway through the first quarter, the Wizards went on a 22-0 run, put the game out of reach, and cruised to a 116-89 victory on Thursday night at Verizon Center. All five starters finished in double figures, led by John Wall's 24 points. Bojan Bogdanovic came off the bench and led the second unit with 19 points and 10 boards. The Celtics were held to 35% shooting and a playoff low 89 points
Game 4: Celtics 102 - Wizards 121
In Game 4, the Wizards and Celtics played a competitive first half and were tied at the break, but the Wiz broke the game open in the third quarter when they went on a 26-0 run to secure their fate and tie the series at 2-2. Bradley Beal led the team with 29 points on 11/16 shooting, John Wall had 27 points and 12 assists, Otto Porter added 18 points while Keef Morris finished with a double-double (16p-10r).
Game 5: Wizards 101 - Celtics 123
Although the Wizards entered the game with momentum, having won both games three and four in DC, the Celtics quickly flipped the script in Game 5 and routed the Wiz, 123-101 on Wednesday night at the TD Garden. The Celts went on a 16-0 run early in the first quarter and led by double digits the rest of the night. John Wall led the Wiz with 21 points, Bradley Beal added 16 points, while Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre both finished with 13 points apiece. Avery Bradley scored a playoff career-high 29 points to lead the Celtics.
Game 6: Celtics 91 - Wizards 92
With the Wizards trailing by two and the clock winding down, John Wall stepped up and sank the biggest shot of his career, a game-winning 3 pointer to force a Game 7 in Boston. The Wizards had trailed 87-82 with less than two minutes left, but rallied late to save their season. Wall finished with 26 points, Bradley Beal finished with a game-high 33 points on 15/26 shooting, and Keef Morris ended the game with 16p-11r. Wall, Beal and Morris scored all of the team's points in the second half.
What to Watch For
The two best words in sports: Game Seven. There's nothing else like it. One game to decide who moves on and who goes home. This series has looked destined for seven games for some time, and it feels only right that we'll get the chance to witness one game to decide it all tonight.
For the Wizards, this will be the first time the franchise plays in a Game 7 since 1979, when the Bullets beat the Spurs, 107-105, in the Conference Finals. 38 years later, the Wizards will meet the Celtics for a Game 7 in Boston. This will be the 10th Game 7 for the Wizards/Bullets franchise, with the team posting a 6-3 record in those games. This will be the Celtics 30th Game 7 in their storied past, the most in NBA history, and they've posted a 21-8 record in these deciding games. They have played 20 of those 29 games at home and have gone 17-3 when playing Game 7 in their building. Does the fact that the Bill Russell led Celtics were dominant in Game 7's in the 50's and 60's have any bearing on tonight? No, but these are some historical numbers to put tonight's game into context.
If the Wizards can pull off a road win tonight, they'll reach the Conference Finals for the first time since that 1979 playoff run, when they lost in the Finals to Seattle. With what's at stake tonight, one could make the argument that this game will be the biggest for the franchise in 38 years.
A Hostile Environment
The Celtics earned the #1 seed in the East to have this game played on their floor, and with these two teams so evenly matched, that home court advantage could be the difference. The Wizards know they'll be stepping into a hostile TD Garden on Monday night and know they'll have to do something they haven't been able to do all season, win in Boston. Including the regular season, the Wizards are 0-5 in Boston, while the Celtics are 0-5 in DC. The Wiz had a double digit lead in the second half in Game 2 in Boston and then led by six with 2:30 left, but let that lead slip away and lost in overtime. While the Wizards know they can win a road game in this series, their most recent memory of playing at TD Garden was a blowout loss in Game 5 last Wednesday, something they want to rectify tonight. The crowd will be electric from the jump so Washington will need to avoid letting Boston get an early lead, like in Game 5, to keep the crowd from having too big of an impact to decide this one.
While the stars have certainly shined in this series, sometimes in a big Game 7 there's one or two unexpected performances that make a big impact on the game. John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Keef Morris scored all of the Wizards points in the second half in Game 6 and Washington will certainly look for their leaders to carry them, but keep an eye on one of the role players to make his presence felt to decide this series. The Celtics role players have played better at home all series long and that's one of the reasons why they enter tonight's game as a favorite. They have a number of players capable of stepping up and making shots, so they too could have this game swing from one of their role guys getting hot.
John Wall vs. Isaiah Thomas
John Wall picked some time to make his first career go-ahead 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds of a game. His triple with 3.9 seconds left in Game 6 put the Wizards up 92-91 and saved Washington's season. It was the first go-ahead or game-tying 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds of a playoff game since Ray Allen hit a game-tying 3-pointer in the 2013 NBA Finals to save Miami's season. Wall had struggled early in Game 6, starting the game just 1/11 from the field, but got going in the second half to finish with 26 points in 42 minutes of action. Tonight will be his first ever Game 7 and he'll look to lead his team to the Conference Finals for the first time in his career.
If it wasn't for Wall's heroics in Game 6, Isaiah Thomas would have been labeled the hero as he made two huge shots down the stretch to put the Celtics up five in the final two minutes. Thomas scored 27 points, although he was just 8/24 from the field. The Wizards have done a nice job in this series making things as difficult as possible for Thomas, sending double teams, trapping him off pick and rolls, and using different defenders on him throughout each game. He's another guard who won't be afraid of the big moment, so look for him to play a big role, especially if the game is close late in the fourth quarter.