The best and worst moments from the Wizards’ 115-105 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Worst streak: The Wizards still haven’t been to the Eastern Conference finals since 1979. A D.C. team in one of the four major sports hasn’t advanced to its league’s conference championship round since 1998.
Best backcourt: John Wall struggled in the second half and missed his last 11 shots, but behind Bradley Beal’s playoff career-high 38 points, the Wizards’ starting guards (56 points) collectively outplayed Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley (38 points). For the first time this series, the team whose starting backcourt won the scoring battle didn’t win the game.
Worst bench: Wall and Beal couldn’t overcome the thorn in the Wizards’ side all season, an ineffective bench that was outscored 48-5 and thoroughly outplayed on Monday.
Celtics bench: 48 points, 1 turnover
Wizards bench: 5 points, 2 turnovers
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 16, 2017
Wizards starting 5 was +9 on the night in 32 minutes. Any bench player on the court, -19 in 16 minutes.
— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) May 16, 2017
Best season: After rebounding from a 2-8 start to the season to win its first division title in 38 years, the Wizards gave the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed all it could handle in Game 7 on the road.
The Wiz missed the playoffs last year, started 2-8 and the top seed needed 30 from Olynyk to knock them out. Don't lump it in with the Caps.
— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) May 16, 2017
Worst day: Most people know May 15 as National Chocolate Chip Day. (Does anyone actually know this?) It’s also Wizards Elimination Day.
— Chris Miller (@cmillscsn) May 16, 2017
Best four-point play: After Bradley Beal and Kelly Olynyk traded three-pointers, Beal did the Celtics center one better, draining his fifth three-pointer of the game while getting fouled. Beal made the free throw to cut the Celtics’ lead to 101-97 with 6:10 to play.
Worst Wizards killer: Kelly Olynyk? Yes, Kelly freakin’ Olynyk. The reserve center scored 26 points, including seven of Boston’s next nine points after Beal’s four-point play to push his total to 26 and the Celtics’ lead back to 10 with 3:25 remaining. Olynyk scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, which was his previous high for an entire game this postseason.
This guy eliminated the Wizards let it be known pic.twitter.com/3LaPReAzgD
— Master Tesfatsion (@MasterTes) May 16, 2017
Worst deficit: The Celtics’ lead ballooned to 13 points in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter. If you’re looking for reasons to hope, know that Washington overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter of its last Game 7. Of course, that was way back in 1979 and it was at Capital Centre, not TD Garden, which is as loud as it’s been all night.
Best answer: Out of a timeout, the Wizards went on a 7-0 run over the next 71 seconds to trim a 13-point deficit to six with 8:49 to play. Does the team that made a habit of double-digit comebacks during the regular season have at least one more in it?
Worst run: The Celtics closed the third quarter on a 13-3 run, including back-to-back three-pointers by Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart, to take an 85-79 lead into the fourth.
Best Panda: Bradley Beal carried the Wizards offensively in the third quarter, scoring 13 of Washington’s 24 points. Beal continues to lead all scorers with 26, but Isaiah Thomas is up to 24 for Boston.
Best flex and de facto four-point play: The Wizards made 6 of their first 7 shots in the third quarter, including a John Wall layup in transition off a missed three-pointer by Jaylen Brown. Wall was fouled on the play, and while he missed the free throw, he got his own rebound. The possession ended with a pair of free throws by Otto Porter Jr. that gave Washington its biggest lead of the game at 70-64.
Best lead: The Celtics led for much of the first half, but the Wizards took a 55-53 advantage into halftime after a fortunate foul call and a pair of free throws by Bradley Beal with six seconds left. Beal, who scored a game-high 33 points in Game 6, led all scorers with 14 points at halftime of Game 7. John Wall has 13 points and four assists.
Worst flop: It wasn’t as impressive as his dolphin-like tumble in Game 3, but Bradley Beal cracked people up with another meme-worthy flop in the first half. Beal hit the deck after backing into a screen set by Avery Bradley, but this time the referees didn’t call a foul.
Best sign: Otto Porter Jr. scored four early points after going scoreless on 0 for 5 shooting in Friday’s win. Porter’s bucket inside with 7:22 remaining in the first quarter was the first Wizards field goal made by a player not named John Wall, Bradley Beal or Markieff Morris since the first half of Game 6. Porter finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Worst head-scratcher: Kelly Oubre Jr. and Jason Smith didn’t see the court in the first half except for the final six seconds. Meanwhile, Brandon Jennings and Ian Mahinmi played six and seven minutes, respectively.
ha some fans just yelled "no!" when Brooks took Brandon Jennings out
— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) May 16, 2017
Worst surprise: Oubre’s nemesis, Kelly Olynyk, scored 12 points off the bench in the first half, two shy of his playoff-high this season. The good news for Wizards fans: Olynyk has three personal fouls.
Best points in transition: The Wizards put an emphasis on shoring up their transition defense after being repeatedly burned following missed baskets in Game 5. With 2:49 remaining in the first half, Washington had outscored Boston 10-0 in transition.
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) May 16, 2017
Worst sequence: The Celtics scored four points in four seconds midway through the second quarter when Isaiah Thomas made a driving layup, Terry Rozier stole Washington’s ensuing inbounds pass and found Jae Crowder for an easy basket. Washington had six turnovers with 5:52 to play in the first half.
Best pass: After losing control of the ball, Isaiah Thomas dove on the court to corral it. Rather than call a timeout, the Celtics’ point guard made a perfect bounce-pass to a cutting Avery Bradley from the prone position. Bradley couldn’t convert the layup, but he was fouled and his two free throws gave Boston a 42-36 lead.
Isaiah Thomas makes better passes from his stomach than Jared Goff does from a clean pocket: pic.twitter.com/tMXxQBvWlj
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) May 16, 2017
Worst big man: Ian Mahinmi didn’t give Washington much off the bench in the early stages of Game 7, offering little resistance defensively inside, clanking a couple of free throws and committing a turnover.
Worst backups: No surprise here, but the Celtics’ bench outscored the Wizards’ reserves 10-2 in the first quarter, as Boston took a 27-23 lead.
Best pace?: The Wizards are 7-0 this postseason when holding opponents to fewer than 110 points. Simple math says the Celtics are on pace to score 108 in regulation.
#Wizards are undefeated (7-0) this postseason when holding opponents to fewer than 110 points and winless (0-5) when allowing 110+
— David Devall (@McNubian) May 15, 2017
Best run (for now): Washington turned an eight-point deficit into a 12-10 lead with a 10-0 run that would qualify as “modest” in a series in which the Wizards went on a 26-0 run in Game 4. John Wall punctuated the stretch with a dunk in transition.
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) May 16, 2017
Worst start: The Wizards got off to fast starts at TD Garden in Games 1 and 2 before blowing big leads, but they struggled out of the gate in Game 7. Washington missed five of its first six shots, while Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley had three points apiece to help stake Boston to an early 10-2 lead. The team whose starting backcourt has combined for the most points has won every game in the series.
Best loyalty: Charles Barkley, who has been on the Wizards’ bandwagon since the preseason, isn’t jumping off now. “I’m not going to change my pick,” he said on TNT’s pregame show. “I picked the Wizards before the series started and I’m sticking with them.” Barkley also predicted that Washington’s duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal and Boston’s duo of Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford will cancel each other out and Game 7 will come down to which trio plays better between Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat and Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley.
Worst conspiracy theory: TNT’s Twitter background features photos of Kawhi Leonard, Steph Curry, LeBron James and Isaiah Thomas. Is Game 7 rigged to match the Cavaliers and Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals? Eh, probably not, but if there’s a huge free throw disparity, remember that image.
Worst road woes: The home team has won every game in the series, and the Wizards have lost eight straight at TD Garden dating back to 2014, including a 123-101 blowout loss in Game 5.
Best matchup: Before the Wizards’ thrilling 92-91 win in Game 6, the first five games in the series were decided by an average of 18 points. Still, the overall stats for the series headed into Game 7 are remarkably close.
So, yeah, it's been pretty close. pic.twitter.com/uyRNuv7bhS
— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) May 15, 2017
Worst history: The Wizards haven’t been to the Eastern Conference finals in 38 years. No D.C. sports team in the four major pro sports has reached the conference finals or league championship series since the Capitals in 1998. Will the drought finally end?
Best reason to stay up past your bedtime: Game 7, the two most exciting words in sports and, for Wizards fans under 40, a foreign concept. Monday’s game is Washington’s first Game 7 since the decisive game of the 1979 Eastern Conference finals. All 29 other NBA teams have played at least one Game 7 this century. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, who would like nothing more than to see the Spurs and Wizards meet in the NBA Finals, wouldn’t miss it.
Pumped for the @WashWizards game tonight. I'm staying up
— Kirk Cousins (@KirkCousins8) May 15, 2017
Best attire: One team’s season will be buried Monday, but neither team dressed for a funeral. John Wall opted for a red sweatshirt, jeans and gold shoes.
Best hype video: The Wizards debuted this video featuring beloved TV analyst Phil Chenier at Verizon Center during the fourth quarter of Game 6 on Friday. It’s just as strong three days later.
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) May 15, 2017
Game 7: Washington Wizards (East’s No. 4 seed, 49-33) at Boston Celtics (East’s No. 1 seed, 53-29)
Date and time: Monday, 8 p.m.
Location: TD Garden, Boston
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 6 at Washington: Wizards 92, Celtics 91
What you need to know
● For the Wizards to deny any pregame jitters, especially for a team with such little experience in Game 7, would be unbelievable. But the team is doing its darnedest to stay calm as their final game against the Celtics approaches.
● It’s hard to overstate the importance of Game 7, as it represents a chance for Washington to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1979. ESPN managed to overstate the importance of Game 7.
● The last time the Wizards played a Game 7, the franchise was known as the Bullets, the San Antonio Spurs were in the Eastern Conference and 7-foot-4 Ralph Sampson was a high school recruit watching from the Capital Centre’s auxiliary press box. Here’s how it went down.
● “It’s kind of a privilege to get to that point where one game is going to decide your whole season, basically,” said Ian Mahinmi, the only Wizards player with a true Game 7 pedigree. “I’m going to tell those guys, it’s nothing to overthink. Just go out there and play hard. We’ve been playing hard, so more of the same.”
● Roll your eyes as this is referenced again: It has been 19 years since a D.C. team made it to the conference finals in the NBA, NHL, NFL or MLB. The Capitals lost a second-round Game 7 to Pittsburgh at home last Wednesday. The Nationals lost a decisive Game 5 at home to the Los Angeles Dodgers last October. The Redskins are the Redskins, crazy, controversial and strangely irresistible. Now here come the Wizards, comfortably naïve. They’re new to this. They’re new to Game 7, and interestingly, they don’t have the same level of “You always blow it!” playoff pressure that burdens their peers, writes Jerry Brewer.
● The shot that forced Game 7 was both the result of a quick decision made with 3.9 seconds left in a game and the culmination of five years of working to develop a jump shot that wasn’t very good when John Wall entered the league.
● D.C. sports synergy alert! Bryce Harper said he channeled John Wall for his recent walk-off home run. Wall’s response? “My guy lol!!!”
● From the start, the series has seemed on an inevitable track for a seventh game. They are wildly different rosters — Washington thrives on a wickedly efficient starting five and has to survive a shoddy bench, while the Celtics have waves of capable role players surrounding the jitterbug brilliance of Isaiah Thomas. The disparity has created evenness. The Wizards and Celtics created bad blood in the regular season, and six games have not been enough to settle it for good. The seventh will. It will be played in Boston, but the Wizards will enter with momentum and the Celtics will be trying to ditch their regret. Only one team will survive.
● On Monday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Wizards’ star pair will be relied upon again to carry the franchise to new heights. It will be the first Game 7 in John Wall and Bradley Beal’s careers — and the team’s first since the 1979 conference finals. Ian Mahinmi, who has played more Game 7s than anyone on the Wizards roster, expects it to be yet another opportunity to marvel at the development of his teammates who were once opponents. “Now those guys are not babies anymore. They’re closers,” said Mahinmi. “They’re proven closers.”
● Nils Lofgren, the lead guitarist of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, came through with a new anthem for Wizards fans just in time for Game 7 of the team’s playoff series with the Celtics. It’s called “Wizards Fever” and it’s a remix of the 65-year-old musician and longtime area basketball fan’s original hit “Bullets Fever,” which, of course, was an ode to the 1978 championship team that beat the Seattle SuperSonics.
● John Wall rescued the Wizards on Friday — the biggest moment of the game, and the biggest moment for the franchise in a long time. Fans, predictably, lost it. He then won the postgame interview. But first, the Wizards rescued him, battling despite his struggles, playing consistent defense. Down the stretch, as an awful offensive game turned into a back-and-forth exhibition of clutch shooting, Bradley Beal deserved the most credit for putting Washington in a position to win. He scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, matching the Celtics shot for shot. But at the end, it was Wall, refusing to lose, writes Jerry Brewer.
● Before Friday night, Wall had no defining moment on his resume. He’s been a terrific player and a multi-time all-star, but one who has toiled in relative obscurity on a fairly nondescript Wizards team. Wall has that now. His shot will be played again and again for years to come and will be remembered as an iconic moment for a franchise that hasn’t had many of them outside of the 1970s. It is the forever moment that Wall has longed for, and now has on his ledger for good.
● Colin Cowherd is trolling Wall yet again. Comcast SportsNet’s Chris Miller heard Cowherd’s latest blather and felt the need to respond — quite eloquently — before Friday night’s Game 6.
● 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 was Funeral Game, Part II. Afterward, the Wizards responded. “They just tryna be like us, they just want to be us so bad, man,” Markieff Morris, arbiter of the Wizards’ alter-ego-thing, Death Row DC, and therefore an authority on the matter. “They can’t. There’s only one Death Row DC, and they can’t do it like we can do it.”
● 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 bear watching.
● 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.