The Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards are on to Game 7.
The C’s and Wizards were locked in a close one for most of the game, thanks in large part to a rough offensive start for both teams. But John Wall’s game-winning 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left gave Washington a 92-91 win in Game 6 of the teams’ second-round NBA playoff series at Verizon Center. So much for showing up to the arena in all-black, Celtics.
The win means there will be a Game 7 between the two teams Monday night at TD Garden to decide the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opponent in the Eastern Conference finals.
Bradley Beal led all scorers with 33 points, while Wall finished with 26 points and eight assists after only scoring three points in the first half. Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas paced the Celtics with 27 points each. Al Horford (20 points, six rebounds) and Jae Crowder (10 points, eight assists, seven rebounds) also had big games for the C’s.
Here’s how it all went down.
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Al Horford
To say it was an ugly start for the Celtics would be an understatement. However, they still only were down 22-17 after the opening frame.
Boston only made four of the 17 shots it took for an abysmal 23.5 shooting percentage, and Bradley’s layup with 5:20 remaining was its final made basket of the first quarter. It also committed four turnovers. Washington also had four turnovers, but it started to find its rhythm on offense late and upped its shooting percentage to 43.5.
The foul line kept the Celtics close during the opening 12 minutes, as they went 7-for-8 from the charity stripe, while the Wizards only went 1-for-4. Thomas led all scorers with seven points, while Beal paced Washington with six points.
GAME OF RUNS
With 7:13 remaining in the second, it appeared as though the Celtics were starting to find their groove a bit. They had erased a five-point deficit, and they tied the game at 26-26 on a Bradley 3-pointer and at 28-28 on a Horford bucket. But that quickly ended, as they only made one basket during a 12-2 Washington run, which extended the Wizards’ lead to 40-30.
Thomas stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer at the 3:02 mark, which triggered a 10-0 run for the C’s, who came right back and tied the game 40-40 on a Crowder layup with 44 seconds left before the break. Boston went on to lead 42-41 at halftime.
Bradley (13 points, four steals), Horford (11 points, four rebounds) and Thomas (10 points) led the way offensively for the Celtics through two quarters. Beal led all scorers with 14 points, but Wall only had three points on one made field goal in the first half. Boston’s shooting percentage improved a bit to 35 percent, while Washington remained at almost the same mark at 43.6 percent.
OFFENSE NO LONGER OFFENSIVE
The Celtics outscored the Wizards 27-25 in the third quarter, upping their lead to 69-66 heading into the final frame.
It still wasn’t a piece of art on offense by any stretch, but it was an improvement from the first half. Bradley continued his big game with nine more points in the frame to get to 22 points overall, and Horford (18 points) and Thomas (17 points) weren’t too far behind.
Wall finally came to life on offense, which was good news for the home squad. He scored 13 points in the third to get to 16 points overall, while Beal continued to lead the team with 20 points.
The two teams remained locked in a close one for most of the final quarter, which set up an exciting final three minutes.
Thomas momentarily took the game over when it was tied 82-82 with five straight points, giving Boston an 87-82 advantage with 1:34 remaining. But Beal continued his huge game with a 3-pointer of his own, and Wall made two clutch free throws to make it 87-87 with 41 seconds left.
The back-and-forth action continued when Bradley made a jumper out of a timeout, but Beal responded with a bucket to make it 89-89. The Celtics then took a timeout with 14.1 seconds left to try and draw up the potential game-winning play, which resulted in a bank-shot jumper from Horford.
But with 3.5 seconds left, Wall buried a clutch 3-pointer, which proved to be the game-winner after Thomas’ final shot attempt didn’t drop.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Was there any doubt?
The Celtics and Wizards will face off in a winner-take-all Game 7 on Monday night at TD Garden. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images