Best clutch: Bradley Beal’s first made three-pointer of the night after seven failed attempts came with 1:08 left to play and put the Wizards back within a possession of the lead.
Worst reversal: Toward the very end of the fourth quarter it appeared as though Marcus Smart fouled John Wall while the point guard was driving. But after a review, the call was overturned and Wall was called for a charge. The Celtics players celebrating by the sideline broke the news to the rest of the arena.
Best star power: John Wall and Bradley Beal have powered the Wizards through the fourth quarter, combining to score 13 of the team’s 16 total points in the period. Beal also assisted on Morris’s all-important three.
Best three: Markieff Morris made the Wizards’ third three-pointer of the night with the crowd at Verizon Center already on their feet, to put the Wizards ahead 82-80 with less than four minutes to play.
Worst miss: As Bradley Beal likes to say, “a miss is a lady.” (That’s occasionally his response after a bad shooting night when a reporter uses the word “miss” in asking why his ball didn’t go through the basket very much.) But a miss is also a thing the officials just did in this game, twice, in the fourth quarter. First, Isaiah Thomas took a nice leisurely stroll, then Beal caught Marcus Smart’s elbow in his face. No call on either. Verizon Center crowd unhappy.
Best layup: Can a layup even be the “best” part of anything? When you’re the Wizards, and have made just two of 20 three-point attempts, you’d better believe it. Bradley Beal made a tough one off a drive with 9:45 left to play after Washington got a defensive stop on the other end to get the lead back, 70-69.
Best spin cycle: John Wall has slightly improved from a very slow start, shooting 5-for-8 from the floor in the third quarter. Perhaps no field goal was more impressive than his spin move around Kelly Olynyk toward the end of the third.
Best dunk: It didn’t tie the game back up, but the Verizon Center got the loudest it’s been all night when Markieff Morris slammed home a dunk with an assist from Bradley Beal. It was like Joe Biden was in the house all over again.
Best timeout: After Washington Coach Scott Brooks called a timeout with nine minutes left in the third quarter, John Wall made three consecutive points, including a game-tying three-pointer, to take his total to 12.
Worst start: The Wizards are 0-for-9 to start the second half, giving the Celtics their largest lead so far. A whopping five points. John Wall, at least, eked out a pair of points at the free throw line.
Worst Morris: Markieff Morris picked up his third personal foul about two minutes into the third quarter after knocking down Isaiah Thomas. Not the best news for the Wizards, who gave up a 10-point lead just after the last time Morris got called for a foul (Jaylen Brown caught his elbow boxing out a free-throw).
Worst run: The Celtics responded to the Wizards’ second-quarter run in kind, with a 10-0 run of their own just before halftime. Boston came back from 10 down to lead 42-41 at halftime despite (still) shoddy shooting numbers. Avery Bradley leads three Celtics starters in double figures with 13 (Al Horford has 11 and Isaiah Thomas has 10), while the only Washington player to have scored in double digits is Bradley Beal, with 14.
Worst foul: John Wall was called for his second personal foul with less than three minutes left until halftime against Avery Bradley, despite his chase-down defense being apparently clean. The crowd at Verizon Center didn’t like that. Wall has just three points so far this half.
Best run: The Wizards took a 9-2 run late in the second quarter to get out to their largest lead of the game, at 39-30. Along the way the Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk went to the bench with his third foul.
Worst three-point shooting: The Wizards are 1-for-8 from beyond the arc. The Celtics are 3-for-13, midway through the second quarter. Washington is dominating inside, however, besting Boston 18-8 for points in the paint
Worst free throw shooter: The Celtics have wisely chosen to engage in Hack-a-Mahinmi. The Wizards’ reserve center has left four points on the board after missing all four free-throw attempts.
Best boards: The Wizards, at least, are extending possessions against the Celtics. They out-rebounded Boston 15-9 in the first quarter.
Worst fouls: Isaiah Thomas drew four fouls before the first quarter even came to a close. Quite a difference from Game 4 in Washington, in which the Wizards didn’t send him to the foul line once.
Worst shooting: Misses abound at the beginning of Game 6. The Wizards are faring okay, shooting 43.5 percent from the floor (10-for-23), while the Celtics are shooting just 23.5 percent (4-for-17). But a 22-17 lead isn’t exactly the exhilarating starts fans have seen throughout the series.
Best reception: Kelly Oubre Jr. checked in with just under three minutes left in the first quarter to generous applause from the crowd at Verizon Center. The small forward was heckled and cursed all game in Boston during Game 5 after serving a one-game suspension for shoving Kelly Olynyk to the ground last week in Boston.
Best Beal: Beal hasn’t started strong this series despite the Wizards’ jumping out to double-digit leads in both Games 1 and 2. He’s turned up the volume for Friday’s elimination game, though, and leads Washington with six points on 3-of-4 shooting from the floor in the early going.
Worst stat: During a season in which the Wizards pulled off an historic turnaround after an historically bad start, Washington fans have to believe anything could happen. But those chances aren’t great.
Best support: In what proved to be a very sad start to the week for D.C. sports (the Capitals were eliminated from the playoffs and it’s been raining ever since, but you knew that), a few athletes banded together in support of the Wizards on Friday. There were Nats players, taking advantage of a rain out. Alex Ovechkin was there too, hopefully without any bad playoff luck still attached to him.
Best metaphor: Elimination games call for the best puns, it seems.
Best troll: The Celtics arrived at Verizon Center dressed in all black Friday evening, reciprocating the Wizards’ “funeral game,” in which Washington wore all-black outfits for a regular season game in January against Boston. Points for execution, if not subtlety. (They want to bury the Wizards. Do. You. Get it?) The Celtics players, for what it’s worth, very unsuccessfully pretended it was a coincidence. The Wizards pretended not to care.
Game 6: Washington Wizards (East’s No. 4 seed, 49-33) vs. Boston Celtics (East’s No. 1 seed, 53-29)
Date and time: Friday, 8 p.m.
Location: Verizon Center
Regular season series: Wizards 2, Celtics 2
Game 1 at Boston: Celtics 123, Wizards 111
Game 2 at Boston: Celtics 129, Wizards 119 (OT)
Game 3 at Washington: Wizards 116, Celtics 89
Game 4 at Washington: Wizards 121, Celtics 102
Game 5 at Boston: Celtics 123, Wizards 101
Game 7 (if necessary): Monday, May 15, Wizards at Celtics, 8 p.m., TNT
What you need to know
● Remember when the Wizards wore all black to a January game against the Celtics? The Celtics seem to recall. So much so that they wore all black to Verizon Center on Friday night leading up to Game 6. It’s Funeral Game, Part II.
● This is the part where the Washington Wizards must decide how they want the entire season to be perceived, writes Jerry Brewer. And this is the part where, unless the old script has been edited, the Wizards tend to vanish. The last seven times the Wizards have been eliminated from the playoffs, it’s happened at home. That goes all the way back to 1997, when the Chris Webber-Juwan Howard-Rod Strickland Bullets suffered a first-round sweep at the hands of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and the Bulls. Can they break the chain?
● The most glaring theme throughout the course of this series is how differently both teams play when not on their home floors. The Wizards blew leads in Games 1 and 2 in Boston, then were blown out in Game 5. By the same token, the Celtics were finished in the first quarter of Game 3 at Verizon Center, then run out of the gym thanks to a 26-0 third quarter run by Washington in Game 4. It’s the wild swings between the Wizards’ play at home and in Boston that will bear watching once Game 6 rolls around. If things stay true to form, we’ll have the weekend to decide whether Monday night’s Game 7 at TD Garden will remain on brand.
● After five games of wild pendulum swings, one conclusion can be drawn: There’s no place like home. “Everybody plays well at home,” Bradley Beal said, repeating a sports axiom. The Wizards have only one road win in the playoffs — but it’s also the most important one, the Game 6 closeout against the Atlanta Hawks in the first round. They’ll need one more road win to advance.
● Kelly Oubre faced a barrage of chants from a packed TD Garden in Game 5, just as he knew he would during his first trip back to Boston after serving a one-game suspension for shoving the Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk to the ground in Game 3 at home. “We want Ou-bre” came first, before the small forward had even checked in. Then a chorus of “Ou-bre, Ou-bre” took over when he actually played in the second quarter. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the rowdy crowd had added profanity to the chant. Fans weren’t shy about professing their vitriol. “Um, I still hear my name ringing in my head because that’s all I heard when I was on the court, but I was just going out there to play,” Oubre said in the locker room afterward.
● The Wizards treated Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals as if it were another one on the schedule. Big mistake. Their lack of urgency showed in an uninspiring loss Wednesday night, and it could cost them the series, writes Jerry Brewer.
● It was one of the Wizards’ keys to escaping with an elusive road win in Game 5 on Wednesday: Shut down Isaiah Thomas. The Wizards did okay with that part and held the usually explosive point guard to a respectable 18 points. But what Washington wasn’t quite prepared for, what pushed the Celtics to an insurmountable lead that became a 123-101 win, was an eruption from Avery Bradley. If you can manage, here are the best and worst moments from the game.
● Wizards Coach Scott Brooks has a treasure trove of stories from his playing days in the 1990s. He shared these gems from his two-month living experience with Charles Barkley. Then on Wednesday night, before the Wizards faced the Celtics in Game 5, Brooks took a moment to remember another Charles — the tough guy of all tough guys, Charles Oakley.
● One of the many benefits of being a professional basketball player in Round 2 of the NBA playoffs are the celebrity meetings. Just ask the Wizards. Last week, Olympic swimmers Michael Phelps and Allison Schmitt attended Game 3 of the Wizards’ playoff series against Boston at Verizon Center. Center Jason Smith was just as star-struck on Wednesday morning, when he was preparing for the Wizards’ shoot-around in the team hotel, and in walked Will Ferrell.
● Given Draymond Green’s outspoken nature, perhaps it shouldn’t have been a complete surprise that he weighed in on the Kelly Olynyk-Kelly Oubre incident during the Celtics-Wizards second-round playoff series. What is even less of a surprise is that some Boston players, including Isaiah Thomas, are firing back at the Warriors star, and that he appears happy to counterpunch.
● In the last 19 days, Ted Leonsis has gone from D.C. to Atlanta to Toronto to Atlanta to D.C. to Atlanta to D.C. to Boston to New York to Pittsburgh to New York to Boston to Pittsburgh to Detroit (another board meeting) to D.C. to Baltimore to D.C. to Chicago (another board meeting) to Pittsburgh and then back to D.C. in time for Wednesday’s playoffpalooza. In those 19 days, he’s been to nine cities and seen eight NHL playoff games, eight NBA playoff games and one Arena Football League game.
● It will surprise no one who has watched the Wizards’ John Wall and the Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas power their teams through their Eastern Conference semifinal series to hear that neither point guard has a problem speaking his mind.
● During this career-defining season in which John Wall has grown as a closer, big-shot maker and leader, his greatest leap as a rising superstar just might be in how he rises from the doldrums to become the most dominant player on the floor.
● “I can’t be allowed to be held and grabbed every pin-down, every screen and I don’t shoot one free throw,” Isaiah Thomas said after Game 4. “I play the same way each and every night. So I think that has to change.” But Thomas should blame his turnovers for the loss, not the refs. On the Wizards’ side, Bradley Beal experienced resurgent shot-making, and repeatedly mentioned defense in the postgame news conference.
● “It’s probably our best stretch of basketball,” Wizards Coach Scott Brooks proclaimed of Game 4’s pivotal third-quarter scoring burst. Players, naturally, backed that statement. Here are the best and worst moments from Sunday’s win. But here’s one key highlight: Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and his son, Zach, both sat courtside wearing Kelly Oubre Jr.’s No. 12 jersey after the swingman was suspended.
● You know where Otto Porter Jr. got his name from, writes Jerry Brewer. His sweet shooting stroke, however, came from his mother. “He’s come a long way,” said Elnora Timmons Porter, a former high school star. Now, however, “He needs to start shooting more.”
● That fire Brandon Jennings fueled in the Wizards-Celtics series? It started in Compton. When the Wizards’ backup point guard wants to make an impact, he mimics his days as a playground pest.
● NBA top cop Kiki Vandeweghe explained to Tim Bontemps why Kelly Oubre Jr. had to be suspended for Game 4. “It was a non-basketball play, it was a very dangerous play, and you can’t retaliate in that type of manner.”
● John Wall has always been viral, writes Dan Steinberg. Thursday night, Wall scowled and danced and kept the gif-makers engaged throughout Washington’s blowout win over the Celtics, which got Washington back into this second-round series. Wall has left little doubt that he is now the (scowling) face of D.C. sports.
● By the time the Wizards gathered for practice Friday afternoon, gone was the agitated, sputtering Oubre who needed to be held back by teammates as he strained his neck and head toward Boston’s Olynyk and jerked his arms forward in a punching motion during the second quarter of Game 3. The Wizards’ young forward said he’d learned his lesson, while offering no excuses for the play that got him run on Thursday night.
● Desperate after losing two games in Boston that they could have won, the Wizards made sure the Celtics couldn’t rally in Game 3. How did they do it? They pushed back, Jerry Brewer writes. They didn’t whine about how physical the Celtics were in the first two games. They just competed harder, and in doing so, they took the series to another level of ruggedness.
● Wizards contain Isaiah Thomas on offense by making him play defense, Boston’s dynamic point guard finished with 13 points on 3-for-8 shooting, missing both of his three-point attempts, for his lowest scoring performance of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
● Olynyk clobbered Oubre on a screen and the Wizards forward popped right back up and shoved Olynyk to the ground, running into a ref along the way. The young Wizards forward was immediately ejected from the game, bringing the tensions between the two teams to a boil.
● The Wizards spent the first two games of these Eastern Conference semifinals building leads and losing them. In Thursday’s Game 3, they set a physical tone early, built another big lead and maintained the edge en route to a 116-89 win.
● Wall has felt ignored by officials whenever he aggressively drives to the rim. This has been his season-long gripe that naturally has carried over to the rough-and-tumble playoff series against the Celtics. While this is nothing new, on Thursday Wall revealed for the first time that he views himself similarly to LeBron James in this aspect.
● Isaiah Thomas’s illegal free throw shooting form has been the subject of multiple Reddit threads this season, including one titled, “Why are we ignoring how Isaiah Thomas cheats on every free throw?” Tweets about Thomas stepping over the line, which he does on most, but not all, of his attempts, seem to have increased in frequency during the playoffs. “To me, it doesn’t help him, but is it a violation? Yeah, it is,” said Steve Javie, a longtime NBA referee who now does analysis for ESPN.
● Oh no they didn’t! Oh yes they did. Twenty-three years after the Bullets released one of the great team-produced rap videos of all-time, Monumental Sports Network dropped a reboot of “You Da Man” ahead of Game 3 of the Wizards’ second-round series against the Celtics. It is fantastic.
● The comeback defines this Wizards season. For some reason, they perform best when chasing. During the regular season, the Wizards won 17 games after trailing by double figures. They’re the only team in NBA history to win at least 49 games after starting with a 2-8 record. As the first two games against Boston and, really, the entire playoffs have shown, they know how to blow leads, too. They live and die by the comeback. Down two games, the Wizards have struck desperation again, which is a strangely comfortable state for them, writes Jerry Brewer.
● Scott Brooks is taking the heat. The Wizards coach shouldered responsibility for digging out of the 2-0 hole. When questioned about pivotal moments of the 129-119 overtime loss in Game 2, as well as poor individual performances, Brooks accepted blame.
● Doesn’t it sometimes look like Isaiah Thomas has a bit of Kobe Bryant in him? There’s a reason for that. “He made me figure out a lot of things,” Thomas said of Bryant to reporters. “He’s just been a very helping hand when it comes to the film and figuring out what to do the next day.”
● In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, this best-of-seven matchup rose from a mellow first game and provided the thrills and strain to justify the anticipation, writes Jerry Brewer. This was a bloody good game, literally, the perfect combination of brutal and appealing. It was painful to watch. It was beautiful to watch.
● If this past week has felt particularly exhausting and exhilarating, abusive and absurd, there’s a rational explanation, writes Dan Steinberg. We’re currently in the middle of a nine-day stretch in which either the Wizards or Capitals will play a postseason game every day. That has never before happened this late in the season, not in this town. It’s a foolish marathon none of us has ever attempted, and we’re running it without knowing whether finishers will receive laurel wreaths or whoopee cushions.
● Markieff Morris played — and played well Tuesday. In fact, Morris’s night started so well in Boston, the injured Wizards forward’s game spawned conspiracy theories that he had swapped places with his pro basketball playing, identical twin brother, Marcus. He scored 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting, pulled down six rebounds and dished out three assists.
● In a Game 2 duel featuring two all-star guards, Washington’s John Wall performed as a singular force with 40 points and 13 assists, but Isaiah Thomas shined brightest by scoring 53, the second-highest point total for an individual in Boston’s storied playoff history. Here are the best and worst moments from the Wizards’ loss.
● An offensive outburst by Boston in Game 1 is the result of a craftily designed plan by Coach Brad Stevens, one hatched in Game 3 of the Celtics’ series against the Chicago Bulls. By swapping in Gerald Green or Marcus Smart for the struggling Amir Johnson, Boston gains speed and versatility at the expense of size. And they’ve been gaining wins as a result.
● For different reasons, the Wizards and Celtics exemplify the merits of patient team building, writes Jerry Brewer. They won’t be celebrated for it, however. Patience is a sin to the passionate.
● The 6-foot-11, 240-pound center with a tattoo of a hammer on his left biceps is not fragile. Not only is Marcin Gortat not fragile by nature, but right now, he cannot afford to be fragile. Not with the Wizards’ roster of big men as battered as they are. Gortat twisted his ankle slightly in Game 1, but there will be no sitting out for the starting center.
● Even if Markieff Morris makes a quick recovery and plays in Game 2, the Boston matchup should force the Wizards to play small for stretches. That means possibly more Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre Jr. on the floor together, but Sunday’s third quarter showed that the Wizards will need more than just “energy” out of their forwards.
● The Wizards are a very good, very talented team. But like all very good, very talented teams, they still have bad habits. And sometimes, those bad habits supersede all of their talent. Such was the case on Sunday during Game 1 in Boston, when Washington raced out to a 16-0 lead only to see the Celtics not only climb back into it, but use a third quarter as dominant as the Wizards were in those opening moments to ultimately come out on top. As Jerry Brewer writes, “Some might consider it a ridiculous way to lose. For the Wizards, it’s just typical. And that’s the problem.”
● That hot start was the Wizards running on all cylinders. But the momentum started to shift before the end of the first quarter. And then, as if Washington didn’t already have enough to worry about concerning its frontcourt depth, Markieff Morris badly turned his ankle and was forced to the locker room. He wasn’t able to return, and when the Wizards lost Morris, they essentially lost the game as well.
● Boston’s Isaiah Thomas has been through a lot since the start of the playoffs. He learned that his younger sister, Chyna, was killed in a car accident on the eve of the Celtics’ first-round series with the Chicago Bulls. He played in every game of that matchup, though, so it was no surprise to see him back on the TD Garden court at the start of Sunday’s contest despite attending Chyna’s funeral in Tacoma, Wash., on Saturday. In the first quarter, Thomas lost a front tooth when he caught an elbow from Otto Porter trying to get around a pick. But as his 33 points, five three-pointers and just two turnovers will attest, his game was anything but toothless.
● Among the many story lines percolating within this Eastern Conference semifinal stands the matchup between two of the NBA’s best point guards. John Wall and Isaiah Thomas are not only the most valuable players on their respective teams, they’re fringe-y MVP candidates for the entire league, and while neither of them will win that award, this series will shine a bright light on each of them. Wall, for his part, is getting an “opportunity to show the world” what he’s truly capable of doing, beginning Sunday afternoon in Boston.
● The Wizards advanced on Friday night on the stellar play of John Wall, who scored 42 points against the Hawks in Game 6. If there was any doubt about Wall’s status as a superstar in the NBA, there is none left, writes Post columnist Jerry Brewer. In the fourth, he scored 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting. And he added a signature and very Wall flurry when his team needed him most.
● From 2013-15, Andre Miller spent 79 games teaching younger players within the Wizards’ locker room. Those kids — Bradley Beal and John Wall — are now the team’s top dogs, and during Washington’s first-round series against the Hawks, the former player, nicknamed “the Professor,” marveled at the growth displayed by the two star guards. “They’re on the job and learning a lot and they’re healthy. They’re leaders. They’re doing a great job,” Miller said.
● Wall never forgets. And two years removed from an apparent slight on Instagram by Atlanta’s Dennis Schroder, the Wizards superstar got his sweet, sweet revenge. How long can one man dream about posting an Instagram rejoinder? Apparently at least two years.
● Phil Chenier isn’t done in the booth, but the Bullets great and CSN color analyst won’t be the same fixture during Wizards games as he has in the past. Chenier and play-by-play man Steve Buckhantz had their final ride Friday night during Game 6, and he left fans watching with a “Dagger!” call and his booth partner with a kiss.