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John Wall breaks down Game 6 shot and root of beef with Jae Crowder that sparked Celtics rivalry

John Wall breaks down Game 6 shot and root of beef with Jae Crowder that sparked Celtics rivalry

Three years ago Tuesday, John Wall drained a last-second shot in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics to give Washington the win.

The bucket was a big one for many reasons.  Not only was it clutch, but it helped the Wizards stay alive in the series and force a Game 7. It also had the added benefit of coming against the Celtics, a team that the Wizards had some bad-blood with at the time.

The mutual hatred both teams had for each other in 2017 was not created just from the playoff series alone, but rather from a saga of events that continuously fueled the fire. During a Facebook Live with Jason Smith, another member of the 2017 Washington team, Wall explained what started the rivalry in the first place.

Sparks initially began to fly on January 11, 2017, during a regular-season matchup between the two. In a game that the Wizards would lose 117-108, Wall and Celtics forward Jae Crowder chirped each other throughout the game. Wall mentioned that chirping from Crowder was nothing new to him, as he had even heard it in the offseason. Following the game, Crowder continued to talk when the teams were shaking hands, and Wall answered right back with words of his own.

The tension may have fizzled out right then and there if it wasn't for what Crowder did next.

“Then he touches my nose. I’m like, 'no, nobody is about to touch my nose,'" Wall said of the altercation. "So I gave him a little smack and he was like, 'we can meet in the back.'"

"So I went to the back like, okay, there’s nothing but curtains stopping us back here.”

Wall and Crowder would meet near the locker rooms to continue their quarrel, and both teams soon got involved as players from both sides got involved in the situation. Though nothing more transpired on that night, Wall knew it signified the beginning of the 'beef' with Boston.

“From that point forward I was like, you know what, this is the rivalry.”

Just a couple of weeks later, Wall and the Wizards continued the saga by opting to wear all-black outfits to a home game against the Celtics. Washington claimed it was because they were attending Boston's 'funeral' in what was the team's last regular-season meeting in Washington. The Wizards won 123-108, but it wouldn't be the last of the antics between the two. 

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After taking down the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs, Wall and the Wizards knew that a date with the Celtics was up next. A back-and-forth series, Washington entered Game 6 on the brink of elimination at the hands of their rival. To up the stakes, Boston decided to replicate what the Wizards did in the regular season, wearing all black to the crucial playoff game.

That gesture didn't work out for the Celtics, and John Wall had everything to do with it, nailing the now-famous shot. Yet, it was a moment that was not planned to happen as it did.

With the Wizards trailing in the final few seconds, Scott Brooks drew up his usual last-second play which focused on getting Bradley Beal open for the shot. But as the clock neared the end of the game, Wall noticed the play wasn't working. So, he improvised. 

“I’m in the corner waiting, and I just see that he’s not getting open. It’s like 3.5, 4 seconds, I just run and get the ball from Otto [Porter], tip-toeing basically on the sideline," Wall described. ‘I’m just looking like, it’s either win or go home. I see Avery Bradley backing up. I know he’s a great on-ball defender, he’s been tough the whole series. It’s a shot I work on everyday and I just took a hesitation three.”

The reason Wall hesitated is that he said he noticed Beal getting open at the last second. But with no time to pass him the ball, he had to take the shot. It worked out pretty well. 

“So I take the shot, and it goes in," Wall said.

Though the Celtics would win the series in Game 7, the shot was the biggest of Wall's life. Coming against a team he was not fond of only made it that much sweeter.

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John Wall says 2016-17 season was 'most fun I've had playing basketball' since college

John Wall says 2016-17 season was 'most fun I've had playing basketball' since college

The old adage in sports is that winning makes everything better, and for Wizards guard John Wall, that certainly seems to be the case.

Wall joined former teammate Jason Smith on a Facebook live stream Tuesday to commemorate the three-year anniversary of his game-winning 3-pointer against the Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

During the stream, Wall said that 2016-17 season was the most fun he's had playing basketball since he was in college.

“I’ve been here 10 years going on 11,” Wall said of his time in Washington, “and like I told y’all before, just of all the stuff I’ve been through from my first couple years being there, and then having great veterans come around, and people understanding what their role was and accepting it, and us just playing, that’s the most fun I’ve had playing basketball since I was in college with those guys.”

By those guys, Wall is talking about the 2009-10 Kentucky Wildcats team that went 35-3 behind future NBA players like DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Patrick Patterson, among others. Wall didn’t eclipse 35 wins in the NBA until his fourth year in the league.

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It’s safe to say his early years weren’t much fun, but his first playoff appearance in 2013-14 started a run of four playoff appearances in five years -- the best five-year stretch in the era of Wizards basketball. And the 2016-17 season was the highlight of that stretch.

The team’s 49-33 record that year was its best since the Washington Bullets went 54-28 and made a second straight NBA Finals appearance in 1978-79. Wall averaged a career-high 23.1 points, 10.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

“That was one of the best teams I’ve ever been a part of,” said Smith, who played for six teams in his 11-year career. “From top to bottom, one through 15, we had a lot of potential, a lot of weapons.”

It’s a team Wall wishes could’ve gotten another crack at it together.

“That team was fun. Great camaraderie, all that,” he said. “And that’s one thing I say, you look at certain things and I’m like, you wish you could keep that team together for another year or two.”

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This date in Wizards' history: John Wall hits 'The biggest shot of my life' vs. Celtics

This date in Wizards' history: John Wall hits 'The biggest shot of my life' vs. Celtics

The Celtics were in front 91-89 with 7.7 seconds to go. Holding a 3-2 series lead, the Wizards were on the brink of elimination on their home floor. Boston even wore black before the game as their own attempt at a "Funeral Game."

Otto Porter unbounded the ball to John Wall, the exact player Washington wanted to have the ball with the game on the line. He took two hesitation dribbles, pulled up and knocked down a go-ahead three with All-NBA defender Avery Bradley in front of him. 

Wizards win 92-91 and force a Game 7 in Boston. 

"I take the shot, and it goes in," Wall said. "And in my mind, you see my face it just locks in and I'm like, 'I made the biggest shot of my life.'"

The play wasn't initially drawn up for Wall. Right as Porter received the ball from the referee, Bradley Beal began to come off a screen from Marcin Gortat around the top of the key. 

Beal struggled to get open right away, so Wall shot up from the right corner to get the ball before a five-second violation. Beal managed to get himself free from Marcus Smart for a moment, but by then Wall was into his second dribble right before his pull-up jumper. 

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Pull-up threes off the dribble aren't necessarily Wall's strength, especially during the 2016-17 season. During the regular season, Wall shot 19% (4-21) on pull-up threes after two dribbles. He shot 28.9% (11-38) if you include threes off of one dribble.

But the stats don't take into account the clutch gene, and Wall certainly tapped into his on this unforgettable shot. 

Unfortunately for him and the Wizards, this was the last great moment they had that season. They'd go on to lose Game 7 in Boston thanks to a 29-point, 12-assist performance from Isaiah Thomas and a 26-point explosion out of Kelly Olynyk. 

Boston then lost to the Cavs in five games in the Eastern Conference Finals, getting blown out in three of their four losses that series and lost Thomas to a hip injury during Game 2. 

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