WASHINGTON – There was nothing more Avery Bradley could do.
In the closing seconds of Boston’s 92-91 buzzer-beating Game 6 loss to Washington, Bradley found himself on a defensive island of sorts trying to contain John Wall who’s sort of like Usain Bolt with a jumper that works some of the time.
Well the closing seconds of Game 6 was indeed one of those moments, as Wall raised up for a 3-pointer, a deep 3-pointer, that all Bradley could do was pray to not go in.
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His wish did not come to fruition, with the shot going down and in doing so, tied this best-of-seven series up at three games apiece with a winner-take-all Game 7 matchup on Monday night at the TD Garden.
Following the loss, the Celtics were collectively resigned to the fact that Wall made an extremely difficult shot in order to force a Game 7 in this series.
“We had our best on-ball defender (Bradley) on their All-Star (Wall),” said Boston’s Brad Stevens. “We’re going to guard it as hard as we can and shake his hand and move on.”
The shot came on a night when Wall struggled mightily at the start of the game, only to heat up in the second half.
And while Bradley knew there was a chance that Wall might look to shoot a 3-pointer in that situation, he didn’t anticipate he would raise up from so deep.
At the time of Wall’s shot, Bradley’s feet were just outside the 3-point line.
Yes, it was THAT deep!
“He made a good shot. That’s all you can say,” Bradley said. “John Wall is a very fast guy. One of his strengths is getting to the basket. It’s unfortunate.”
And while Wall has hit his share of big shots during his time with the Wizards, the play call at the end of the game wasn’t for Wall to take a deep 3-pointer.
“The last play was really for me to get to the corner and Brad (Beal) to come open,” Wall said. “He didn’t get the opportunity to get open and I didn’t want to get a five-second violation. 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.”
The reason the original play had to be aborted?
Because Boston’s Marcus Smart didn’t allow Beal to get free.
“He (Smart) did blow it up,” said Wizards head coach Scott Brooks. “They make it tough to move, so we have to do a better job with that. But John stepped up and made a big shot.”
And with that shot, he has forced a Game 7 which until he made that last-second shot didn’t seem likely how the game was going.
Give the Wizards credit.
They did not quit, even though there were times late in the contest when it seemed inevitable that the Celtics were going to close the series out tonight.
Washington fought back, forced timely turnovers and got big shots – maybe the biggest shot of the postseason – from many.
But none meant more than Wall’s game-winner, a shot that won’t be forgotten anytime soon around these parts.
It certainly meant a lot to Wall who jumped on the scorer’s table following the win.
“To get on the scorer’s table, it was for how much love I have for this city, how much love I have for my teammates, how much fight we have,” Wall said. “A lot of people doubted us in this series, after going down 2-0,” Wall said. “A lot of guys doubted us winning this game at home. The last two years we were in the playoffs, we lost Game Six here and we just had a lot of heart (tonight). I just wanted the city to know that we love them for all the support they give us and they’re amazing fans.”