BOSTON — John Wall is the reason there was a basketball game Monday night at TD Garden.
The Washington Wizards point guard buried a clutch, game-winning 3-pointer in Game 6 of his team’s Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Boston Celtics, forcing a do-or-die Game 7.
But Wall’s heroics ended there, as the Celtics outlasted the Wizards 115-105 to book a ticket to the Eastern Conference finals and a matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Washington needed a stellar performance from Wall to advance in the postseason, but the star point guard played arguably his worst game of the series. He finished with 18 points, only five of which came in the second half.
Wall couldn’t put a finger on what went wrong, but he knew the effort he gave wasn’t near good enough.
“I really don’t know,” Wall said after the game. “The only other way I could process this is I wish I played better. Other than that we had a heck of a season, a heck of a series. It’s something we can look at as motivation, but other than that it’s tough to think about right now.”
Game 7 was a back-and-forth contest, as neither squad was able to jump out to a commanding lead. But as the Celtics began to surge in the latter portion of the game, Wall’s play started to dwindle.
In the final 19 minutes of the action, Wall went scoreless, missing all of his 11 shot attempts, seven of which from beyond the arc. His slowed play was due in large part to strong defense from Celtics guard Marcus Smart, but fatigue could have been an issue, as well.
“He definitely wore down,” Smart said after the game. “Some of the coaches told us, ‘He’s going to wear down.’ In Game 7s, legs are gone.'”
It’s safe to say a lot was demanded of Wall in this series. The point guard averaged just under 39 minutes per contest through seven games, a clear indication of how much his team needs him to perform.
The Wizards are a top-heavy team and typically don’t see much production from their reserves. Their lack of depth was on full display in Game 7, as Washington only got five points from its bench and none in the second half. Conversely, Boston received a whopping 48 points from its reserves, including a 26-point performance from Kelly Olynyk.
Wall was the driving force that led Washington into the postseason, and he shined through the first six games of the series against the Celtics. But whether it be due to tiredness or relentless Boston defense, Wall didn’t have enough to move Washington to the next round.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images