Sunglasses & Advil:
What a game. For the first real time in this series, we had an amazing, heart-stopping, down-to-the wire, blow-for-blow, one-possession game. It was glorious. In the last two minutes alone, my heart stopped on a few occasions. Players on both teams stepped up; Al Horford, Avery Bradley, and Isaiah Thomas all hit big shots. In the end, one shot stood above the rest.
John Wall literally put the whole city on his back with this shot, and it was one that he's not even good at. He shot 29.9% on pull-up 3-pointers in the regular season, and so far in the playoffs, he's shot 26.3% on those shots. None of that mattered. What mattered was how hyped he was after the shot. Jumping on tables, yelling at the crowd, slapping the skin off of his teammates' hands . . . John Wall's postgame celebration had everything. Everything including an interview in which he said, "Don't come to my city, wearing all black, talking about a funeral."
Wall referenced how the Celtics "accidentally" all wore black on the same night walking into the Verizon Center. What a coincidence. That kind of stunt looks cool enough when you win, but if you're gonna pull it, well, you better win. The Celtics were two points away from looking sorta cool (again, "accidentally"). Instead, they look super lame because they lost. The "wear all black to the other team's funeral in an elimination game" hasn't been a good look since 2011 when Dirk Nowitzki's Dallas Mavericks actually made it a routine (that worked). Bradley claimed it wasn't planned, but it's still a pretty bad look.
All things considered, though, the Celtics played well. They weren't nearly as horrific as they were in Games 3 and 4 despite playing in Washington. The bench gave them nothing, and they were still in it at the end because of huge efforts from Horford, Bradley and Thomas. On the other hand, Otto Porter Jr. went scoreless for Washington, and Marcin Gortat didn't add much either. Something's gotta give, and that's what makes Monday night's Game 7 compelling. Strap in; it's gonna be a bumpy (and fun) ride.
The Wizards tied the Celtics 3-3 heading to Monday's Game 7 in Boston.
When the Sun falls, then the Moonlight:
No teams play today, but the San Antonio Spurs will take on the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday at 3:30. This will be the first time Gregg Popovich is facing a 67-win team in the playoffs. Fun fact: Popovich has won against every Western Conference team in the playoffs at least once in his career. That's ridiculous, and it speaks to his amazing coaching career.
As for the players, no range of outcomes should be surprising. It wouldn't surprise me if the Spurs lost in four games. I wouldn't be surprised if this went 7 games. Tim Duncan could rise from the retirement grave, average 20-10, and I still wouldn't be surprised. We'll see if the coaching divide between Mike Brown and Popovich will have any tangible results. Obviously the talent disparity skews greatly in Golden State's favor, but San Antonio has to feel good about wiping the floor with Houston on the road in an elimination game without their Cyborg-in-chief, Kawhi Leonard.
Speaking of Leonard, he will play despite an ankle injury that he sustained in Game 5 against Houston.
SAS @ Golden State | 3:30 PM ET on ABC | Series is tied at 0-0
Lines of the Night:
Avery Bradley: 27 points (10-for-18) | 3 rebounds | 4 steals | L
Isaiah Thomas: 27 points (8-for-24) | 3 rebounds | 7 assists | L
John Wall: 26 points (9-for-25) | 2 rebounds | 8 assists | W
Bradley Beal: 33 points (15-for-26) | 2 rebounds | 5 assists | W
- Below is the 6th episode of the 5th Quarter Podcast.