John Wall nailed a clutch three pointer with three seconds remaining to lift the Washington Wizards to a 92-91 win over the Boston Celtics in game six of their NBA playoff series.
Wall’s late game-winning shot sets up a deciding game seven on Monday with the winner advancing to the Eastern Conference final against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Wall said he was motivated Friday by some gamesmanship on behalf of the Celtic players, who decided to come to the Verizon Center arena wearing all black outfits.
“Don’t come into my city wearing all black talking about it is a funeral,” said Wall. “I got too much heart. I put in too much work.”
Wall’s heroics came after Al Horford’s jump shot with seven seconds left put the top-seeded Celtics ahead 91-89.
Washington’s Bradley Beal had 33 points and Wall scored 26 despite shooting nine of 25 from the field. Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley each scored 27 points for the Celtics. Horford finished with 20 points.
The Wizards’ win continues a home court advantage pattern in the season series between the two teams. The teams have played 10 games this season with the home team winning each time.
The Wizards also exorcised some elimination-game demons by snapping a streak of seven straight elimination game losses at home.
Thomas scored five straight points to put Boston up 87-82 with 94 seconds remaining.
Washington countered with the help of a superb backcourt. Beal drained a shot from three point range and Wall tied the game by hitting two free throws with 41 seconds left.
Markieff Morris had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Washington. “That was a heck of a basketball game between two teams playing very well,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
The Celtics won games one and two – the first playoff series between Washington and Boston since 1984 – by at least 10 points. After the Wizards won games three and four by 27 and 19 points, respectively, the Celtics roared back with a dominating 123-101 victory in Boston on Wednesday. Asked what it means to force a game seven, Wall said, “It is my life. This is what I asked for, down 2-0 to win.”
In game six, Wall continued his trend of slow starts. The four-time All-Star missed 11 of 12 field goals Friday before hitting three in a row in the third. He scored 13 in the period as Washington entered the fourth trailing 69-66.
“He’s a winner. He plays to win,” said Wizards coach Scott Brooks of Wall. “He’s not worried about his stats, he’s worried about winning the game.”
After quieting talk of a funeral on Friday with his game winner, Wall hopes to put final nail in the Celtics’ coffin on Monday. The winner of game seven will tip off in the NBA semi-final series Wednesday in Cleveland.