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NBA Playoffs: Angry John Wall hits late 3 to help Wizards force Game 7 vs. Celtics

NBA Playoffs: Angry John Wall hits late 3 to help Wizards force Game 7 vs. Celtics

BOX SCORE

WASHINGTON -- John Wall stood atop the scorer's table, popping his jersey, yelling and celebrating his 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left for the go-ahead basket that put his Washington Wizards into a Game 7 against the Boston Celtics.

After Washington's 92-91 victory extended the Eastern Conference semifinal, Wall offered his thoughts on Boston's failure to back up its fashion statement of wearing all black clothing to the arena Friday night.

"It was just funny to me. It was kind of copy-catting what we did," said Wall, whose Wizards donned dark outfits before a regular-season game between these teams that are building a rivalry. "It was in my mind throughout the game that I didn't want them to come here, wear all black, and basically call it a funeral."

Thanks to him and backcourt mate Bradley Beal, Washington's season will last at least one more game. Wall finished with 26 points, Beal scored a game-high 33, and they combined for 23 of Washington's 26 points in the back-and-forth fourth quarter.

"All we asked for was one more game," Wall said, "and we got it."

Game 7 is at Boston on Monday night. The winner will face LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East finals starting Wednesday.

The host has won all 10 games between the Wizards and Celtics this season -- four in the regular season and six in the playoffs.

"Two best words in playoffs is `Game 7,'" Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "Seems like it was meant to be."

Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley each scored 27 points for Boston, the conference's No. 1 seed.

But Bradley could do nothing defensively to stop Wall on the winning shot, coming off an inbound play that was designed to get Beal the ball. And Thomas' heave at the buzzer clanked off the rim.

"I thought it was going in," Thomas said. "Honestly I did."

Like the rest of his teammates, he was left to get back into his dark outfit afterward. Wearing a black shirt, he scoffed at the idea Wall and the Wizards derived some boost from knowing about the Celtics' choice of attire.

"Their season was on the line," he said. "They should have been motivated by everything else."

Boston, which won Game 5 at home by 22 points, led Game 6 by 69-66 entering the fourth quarter, when a relatively blah game became much more compelling. The final period was tight throughout, featuring six ties and nine lead changes.

Boston was up 87-82, but did not hold on.

"We put ourselves in position to win the game," said Al Horford, whose 16-foot baseline bank shot with 7.7 seconds left gave Boston its last lead at 91-89. "Couldn't finish it. ... We can't dwell on this."

Wall and Beal both shook off slow starts.

Beal was 0 for 7 on 3s before making his only one of the game with 69 seconds left. The Wizards as a whole started 1 for 15 from beyond the arc. And Wall started 1 for 12 overall before closing by making 8 of 13.

"If I go 1 for 30," he shrugged, "that's the way I go out."

Not since 1979 have the Wizards reached the conference finals, and Wall has made clear he'll consider this season -- Brooks' first as the team's coach -- a waste of time if they don't get there this time.

"We don't win Game 7," Wall said, "we feel like it was a failure."

Tip-ins
Celtics: Their 42-41 halftime lead was the visitors' first since edge since 2-0 on Horford's basket. ... Trying to reach the East finals for the first time since 2012.

Wizards: Had lost seven consecutive elimination games at home. ... Last reached the Eastern Conference finals in 1979. ... This was the first win by a home team facing elimination on its court in these NBA playoffs; hosts had been 0-10 in that situation until Friday. ... F Otto Porter Jr. had zero points.

Back in black
Some Celtics said it was purely coincidence that they showed up wearing black, the way the Wizards did for what became known as the "Funeral Game," won by Washington in January. Joked Brooks: "I'm going to talk to my lawyers. I think we have that trademarked, right? That's our thing."

Banged-up Markelle Fultz is latest chapter in Sixers' painful rookie history

Banged-up Markelle Fultz is latest chapter in Sixers' painful rookie history

CAMDEN, N.J. — Brett Brown has been here before. The scenario isn’t as drastic in the past, but it’s familiar nonetheless: starting the season with an injured rookie for the fifth straight year.

Markelle Fultz will begin his first NBA season dealing with ongoing right shoulder and right knee soreness. The No. 1 pick is expected to play on opening night Wednesday, but will come off the bench after appearing in only two preseason games. 

Brown has learned to manage this type of situation after years of experience. Nerlens Noel missed Brown’s entire first season because of an ACL injury. Joel Embiid sat out the following two seasons with foot injuries. Ben Simmons suffered a season-ending foot fracture in last year’s training camp. 

The biggest lesson? 

“To go slow,” Brown said. “To not put them in a position where it’s going to produce some difficult times.” 

Fultz was likely to be a starter when the Sixers traded up to draft him first overall in June. The 19-year-old guard hasn’t had that much experience since then thanks to injuries in both summer league and preseason. 

The Sixers face John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry in the first three games alone. That would be a tall defensive task if Fultz were to start. 

“This league is driven by men, this league is driven by veterans,” Brown said. “To just put him in that environment is just, I think, poor coaching and I’m not doing it.”

Just as Simmons took advice from Embiid during his injury, he is offering words of wisdom to Fultz.

“[You’ve] got to to take your time and you definitely have to take care of your body,” Simmons said. “Put your body first. There’s no need to rush.”

The Sixers have the backcourt depth to adjust without Fultz in the starting lineup. They have been turning to veteran Jerryd Bayless at shooting guard alongside Simmons, their intended backcourt pairing last season. 

In the meantime, Brown will balance Fultz’s health, his growth as an NBA player, and the team’s success. 

“The end game needs to be developing Markelle Fultz," Brown said. 

Joel Embiid disappointed Brett Brown has him on another minutes limit

Joel Embiid disappointed Brett Brown has him on another minutes limit

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid would like to play 48 minutes every game. The Sixers are looking at a maximum of 20 for opening night.

"I don't really know if there's a solid number," Brett Brown said Monday after practice. "I can tell if you were to choose a number, it's somewhere in the teens."

Embiid was hoping for more playing time on Wednesday against the Wizards, his first regular-season game since Jan. 27 (left knee surgery).

"I didn't know about that, but that's very disappointing," Embiid said Monday of the minutes restriction. "I feel great and hopefully that changes based on today's practice and tomorrow's practice."

The Sixers are being cautious with Embiid, who has both a lengthy history of injuries and a massive new contract extension. He clocked 15 minutes in both of his preseason games last week. Embiid felt he could have played twice as many minutes.

While the Sixers aren't ready to go as high as 30 minutes yet, they could exercise some wiggle room based on the flow of the game.

"There will be some minutes restrictions, but it's also a judgment of how is the game being played, not just looking at rote, rigid number," Brown said.

The NBA's new timeout rules could impact Embiid's playing time. The updated format changes include a decrease in the maximum number of timeouts allowed (18 to 14), 75-second team timeouts and fewer timeouts in the final minutes of the game. 

"One of the things that we're doing this year unlike previous years is there's a little bit of a looseness in relation to it doesn't have to be rigid if the game didn't dictate some track meet," Brown said. "This is like I'm coaching in the London Olympic Games again. The game moves. I can have guys at a scorers table for two minutes with no stoppage. So sometimes the torrid pace of a game doesn't favor Jo where you go flying up and down."

In addition to individual games, it remains to be seen if Embiid will be cleared this season for back-to-backs. The Sixers face their first set of consecutive games this Friday and Saturday against the Celtics at home and the Raptors in Toronto.