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Takeaways from Wizards' thrilling victory in Game 6 vs. Boston Celtics

Takeaways from Wizards' thrilling victory in Game 6 vs. Boston Celtics

They wore all-black attire in Friday’s attempted closeout of the Wizards at Verizon Center. The Boston Celtics, however, were turned away a bit red-faced as the ploy backfired and John Wall had the last laugh as his three-pointer with 3.5 seconds left won it 92-91.

The home team has won every game in this East semifinal that returns to TD Garden for a Game 7 on Monday to determine who meets the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Boston erased a 10-point first-half deficit, led by 87-82 in the final two minutes after a quick explosion by Isaiah Thomas and the Wizards tied it after a pair of stops on a three-pointer from Bradley Beal and free throws from Wall with 41.2 seconds left.

RELATED: WALL CELEBRATES WIN ON SCORER'S TABLE

The Wizards are 6-0 at home in the postseason.

Wall (26 points, eight assists) was listless for most of three quarters, Marcin Gortat (four points, 13 rebounds) was in early foul trouble and Otto Porter (36 minutes) went scoreless. as he missed all five of his attempts.

Like the Wizards in Games 1 and 2 when they had victory in hand in Boston, the Celtics wilted down the stretch.

This could’ve been the third Game 6 semifinal elimination in four years for Wall, Gortat, Porter and Beal (33 points, five assists).

But after Avery Bradley (27 points) made the go-ahead jumper, Beal responded with a drive by Kelly Olynyk to tie the score at 89 and set the stage for the finish.

Wall began shooting 1-for-9 but caught fire with three consecutive field goals, including a three-pointer, to tie the score at 50 in the third quarter. He scored 13 of his points in the third. Beal scored 13 in the fourth.

Then it was Beal who came alive to repeatedly beat the Celtics’ slower defenders off the dribble to get to the rim in the fourth.

Bradley, Thomas (27 points, seven assists) and Al Horford (20 points, six rebounds) weren’t enough for Boston to get over the hump.

A pair of foul shots from Jae Crowder (10 points, seven rebounds, eight assists) tied the score at 82 in the final four minutes. Horford’s difficult bank shot with 7.7 seconds left put the Celtics ahead 91-89.

The dislike between the teams made this a game the Wizards believed going in they couldn’t lose no matter the circumstances.

“It factors into it a little bit. I think it gets the fans more involved than anything,” Beal said before tipoff. “You get a little bit more edge, you can yell at them a little bit more, kind of disrupt them. I don’t know what it is. We don’t like each other. We both want to win. It’s competitive. It’s fun to me. I enjoy it. This is how hoops should be.”

It’ll last one more game.

[RELATED: Celtics players arrive at Game 6 against Wizards wearing all black]

--The Wizards went without a field goal in the last 4:10 of the second quarter. Wall didn’t have a point or an assist in the eight minutes he played. The Wizards went from a 40-30 led to trailing 42-41 at halftime.

--Defense is what got the Wizards back on top after trailing throughout the third quarter. They had multiple blocks to begin the fourth and consecutive baskets from Beal put them ahead 70-69 with 9:45 left. It was defense that got them the stops late, turning over Thomas who had a game-high five giveaways.

--Gortat picked up two fouls and had to leave the game. When he re-entered at 7:32 of the second, it took him just five seconds to pick up his third foul on a closeout of Thomas. He screened for Wall in the lane with 5:51 left in the third quarter and picked up his fourth foul. Coach Scott Brooks, however, stayed with Gortat in the lineup. His screen-setting and four offensive rebounds got the Wizards the looks they needed to close.

--Neither team shot the ball well from three-point range, but that didn’t make either bashful. Through three quarters, the Wizards were 5-for-24 and Celtics shot 11-for-35. Beal has been less than 30% for the playoffs and shot 1-for-8. He didn’t make any of his threes in Game 5.

--One of Ian Mahinmi’s strengths is supposed to be his ability to defend but he remained indecisive in closing out Horford at the three-point line and paid for it. Also he came up to trap Thomas to help Wall on the pick-and-roll, got too high and allowed the 5-9 point guard to split it. Mahinmi then picked up his fourth foul to stop the layup.

--Thomas picked up his fourth foul trying to defend Bojan Bogdanovic (four points) in the paint. Thomas stayed in the game, and though he’s usually a defensive liability he was even more of one as he was more concerned (and rightly so) with being on the floor in crunch time. The Wizards’ strategy to contain him worked again as he shot just 8-for-24 from the field.

--Both benches were limited as the Wizards got just 13 from theirs led by Ian Mahinmi (six points). Boston only got five points, with Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier going scoreless and combining to shoot 0-for-8.

[RELATED: Alex Ovechkin, Nationals players turn out to support Wizards in Game 6]

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?