Washington is one of the best transition teams in the league, and Boston has given up easy baskets in its losses in the semifinals, especially during the Game 4 blowout. They also flipped all pressure from Boston to Washington at this late stage. Boston has averaged just 95.5 points per game on the road in this series in sharp contrast to the 125 points per game it has scored at home.
"Great shot by a great player", Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "We're going to shake his hand and move on". It's a familiar pattern in the National Basketball Association, as hot crowds, home-cooking referees and empowered role players can all conspire to sway games in favor of the hosts.
Wall didn't have to be flawless. The Wizards only had eight fast-break points, and they shot 5-for-24 (20.8 percent) from 3-point range. But that quickly ended, as they only made one basket during a 12-2 Washington run, which extended the Wizards' lead to 40-30. The Celtics then took a timeout with 14.1 seconds left to try and draw up the potential game-winning play.
Wall was ice-cold for the first three quarters before heating up when it mattered most. Beal answered with a driving banker for an 89-89 tie with 28.7 seconds left, and the game lurched into the final three possessions. "It was a tough shot, they had a couple guys on me, but that was the only shot we could have got there". So you have to take your hat off to that.
Although effective in his point guard role with six assists in the opening quarter, Wall struggled to find his shot.
But unlike past trips to Washington in this series, there was no big run or Wizards surge Boston had to overcome which gave them ample opportunities to do what they failed to do in both the regular season and playoffs - win in Washington. "So I came and got the ball from Otto [Porter Jr.] and looked the defender in the eye and took a shot I work on, and it went in". Pierce explained how hard it is to win in the playoffs and that the best players grind through adversity.
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Wall was understandably fired up afterward and jumped up on the scorer's table to let out his emotions. He's not anxious about his stats.
"I've been in this position", Wall said.
However, that would require the home team losing, which hasn't happened in this series either SU or ATS. When made aware of it, Beal, who had a game-high 33 points, did a double-take as Wall explained his actions. This season has been a success all things considered, but I don't want to visit the free agency and trade idea questions just yet.
"All we're trying to do is get one game at home and force a Game 7", Wall said Friday afternoon. "We lost the game". "We didn't have the focus we had to have going into this game".
Can he give them a Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in four decades?
The Wizards and Celtics developed a low-simmering rivalry throughout the course of this season, and this evenly-contested playoff series has only elevated the hatred.