Two teams, one playing for their basketball lives while the other fighting to go where so few thought they could.
Boston and Washington stages a dramatic back-and-forth battle that ended with the Wizards squeaking out a 92-91 win.
Isaiah Thomas had one last shot for the win, but his tightly contested, off-balance 3-pointer was off the mark as time expired.
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With the Wizards win, the series is now tied at 3-3 with a winner-take-all Game 7 in Boston on Monday.
Thomas and Avery Bradley had 27 apiece for the Celtics, while the Wizards were led by 33 points from Bradley Beal and 26 from Wall.
It was indeed a nail-biter with both teams playing with the competitive juices you would expect in a game with so much at stake.
Thomas scored five straight as part of a 7-0 run by Boston, including a 3-pointer that gave Boston an 87-82 lead with 94 seconds to play.
Washington called a time-out immediately, with both sides well aware that there was plenty of time left to play.
The Wizards responded with five straight to tie the game at 87-all with 41.2 seconds to play.
Coming out of a time-out, Avery Bradley drained a go-ahead jumper, only for Bradley Beal to score on a driving lay-up to keep the score tied, at 89.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens called a time-out with 14.1 seconds to play and nine seconds on the shot clock.
Out of the time-out, Boston played a bit of two-man ball with Thomas and Al Horford whose 16-footer put Boston ahead 91-89 with 7.7 seconds to play. He had 20 points along with six rebounds.
It was Washington’s turn to see if they could tie the game or take the lead with a 3-pointer.
Coming out of a time-out, Washington got the ball immediately into the hands of – who else? – John Wall.
And he stepped up, draining a 3-pointer that put the Wizards ahead 92-91 which would be the final points scored.
After Washington went ahead 77-75 on a Bradley Beal basket after an offensive rebound on a free throw miss with less than seven minutes to play, it was a back and forth tussle for the rest of the game.
Boston tied the game on a Kelly Olynyk basket that was goal-tended by Markieff Morris who subsequently knocked Olynyk to the floor after the play, but the Wizards came back with a driving lay-up by Wall to put them back ahead, 79-77.
Thomas put the Celtics back on top with a 3-pointer, only for Morris to drain one of his own to give Washington the lead.
Following a pair of free throws by Jae Crowder, the game was knotted up at 82.
The Celtics took a slim 42-41 lead into the half following a strong surge at the end of the second quarter, and they seemingly picked up where it left off in what was shaping up to be the closest game of this series.
Boston began the third quarter with a 6-2 spurt that put them ahead 48-43. After a Washington time-out, the Wizards countered with a 7-2 spurt of their own to tie the game at 50.
Then came another Celtics’ 8-2 spurt only for Washington to score four straight that cut Boston’s lead down to 58-56.
Boston continued to play with the lead for most of the quarter which ended with the Celtics ahead 69-66 going into the fourth.
The Celtics spent most of the second half playing with a lead, a position gained near the end of the second quarter.
After falling behind 40-30, the Celtics clawed their way back with a 10 straight, the last of which being a Jae Crowder lay-up after Jaylen Brown grabbed an offensive rebound that tied the score at 40 with 44.5 seconds to play in the first half.
Morris made one of two free throws to put Washington back on top, only for Avery Bradley to catch a lob from Marcus Smart that gave Boston a 42-41 lead with a few ticks remaining on the game clock.
The Wizards’ human blur, better known by the masses as John Wall, sprinted down the court and threw up a shot in traffic that was deflected by Boston’s Al Horford as time expired to preserve Boston’s slimmest of leads, 42-41 at the half. It was that kind of half for Wall who missed eight of his nine shots but did manage to dish out six assists.
Just being within striking distance was a victory of sorts for the Celtics, who spent most of the first half trailing.
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.