Game 6 Rapid Reaction: John Wall Has The Game of Markieff Morris’s Career | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Game 6 Rapid Reaction: John Wall Has The Game of Markieff Morris’s Career

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Updated: May 13, 2017

MVP: John Wall

The expression goes, “dance with the girl who brung you,” and by that logic Bradley Beal should be the MVP of the Wizards’ 92-91 victory. After all, he had a game-high 33 points, he shot 15-of-26 from the field, along with five assists, and with apologies to Avery Bradley (27 points on 10-of-18 shooting), Beal was the most consistent player on the floor the entire night. He had 17 in the first half and 16 in the second, and he had the full repertoire on display: The in-and-out dribble, step-back shot, the drives to the basket and two trips to the free throw line. The only thing he did not do with any level of proficiency was shoot the 3-pointer (1-for-8) but to be fair, no one in a Wizards uniform did (the rest of the team shot 4-for-16). But with all that being said, John Wall was the MVP of last night’s game, because he hit the biggest shot when it mattered the most.

Prior to that game-winning shot, Wall was shooting just 8-of-24 from the field and he had 24 points–13 of those came in the third quarter when he shot 5-of-11. He missed some point blank shots, he fell into the bad habit of trying to get fouled, instead of trying to score, and Avery Bradley was doing his darnedest to challenge each and every shot and dribble he took.

In fact, just 1:47 before Wall hit the game-winning shot, he ran down the shot clock via useless dribbles, then missed a rushed 18-footer. The Wizards trailed by just two points at the time, but after Isaiah Thomas hit his second basket in as many possessions–a 3-pointer no less–the Celtics led by five points with only 1:34 left in the game. Beal made up the difference with a 3-pointer of his own in transition, Wall hit two free throws and then Beal made another driving shot, and that’s when the ball found its way to Wall’s hands with 7.7 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the Wizards trailing 91-89.

Wall took the inbounds pass from Otto Porter, took two dribbles to get Avery Bradley off balance, and despite his below average shooting much of the night, Wall dared to take the game-winning shot, and nailed it. Comcast SportsNet was not airing the game, so Steve Buchhantz couldn’t deliver the official dagger and Phil Chenier could not co-sign, but Dave Johnson, via the Washington Wizards radio broadcast, did his best to give the moment justice.

The Celtics had a chance to steal the game back from the Wizards, but Isaiah Thomas’ 3-point heave bounced off the backboard and Wall was the hero. In fact, the shot was so big that Markieff Morris semi-selfishly said after the game that Wall’s shot was the biggest one of HIS career. Eat it Colin Cowherd.

X-Factor: Crunch-Time Defense

With 1:34 left in the game, Isaiah Thomas hit a step back 3-pointer to put the Celtics up by five points and Coach Scott Brooks was forced to call timeout. Brooks has excelled at calling out-of-timeout plays this season, and he drew up a pick and roll with Wall and Gortat to get Wall isolated on Al Horford. Wall drove to the rim but Marcus Smart cut him off in good position and Wall was called for an offensive foul, after the refs went to the monitor and overturned their initial blocking call. If the Celtics were to score on their next possession, they would be up seven or eight points with no more than 1:25 left in the game. That wouldn’t have been an insurmountable deficit, but it wouldn’t have been a cake walk either.

When the Celtics took possession of the ball, Thomas tried once again to sink the dagger in the Wizards, but this time Wall and Markieff Morris jumped on him before he could make a decisive basketball move. Thomas tried to get rid of the ball, but he threw it to open space, not a Celtics jersey. Gortat ran to the ball and threw it to Beal. He took three dribbles — the first two advanced the ball forward, the third was between the legs for misdirection purposes — then he shot, and made, his first 3-pointer of the night, which brought the Wizards within two points with 1:09 left in the game. Here was Beal’s account of that moment:

“We were going to blitz them, period. He [Isaiah Thomas] just made two big shots, so we had to get the ball out of his hand one way or another. We have some tall, athletic guys. Coach said blitz him, he can’t see over our guys. We forced a turnover, Marcin [Gortat] came up with it. In transition guys are trying to match up, guys are scrambling, the clock is running down. It’s a little bit panic mode, so I just took advantage of it. Guys were falling back, rose up and knocked it down.”

That Game Was…Historic

Had the Wizards lost to the Celtics in Game 6 they would have met the same fate as the Wizards of 2015, 2014 and 2005—death by second-round defeat at home. Friday night’s win against the Celtics did not completely free them from meeting that same type of second-round demise, but it did enable the Wizards to play in a game that Coach Scott Brooks called, “the best words in all of sports” — Game 7.

The Wizards have not been involved in a Game 7 since 1979 when they defeated the San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Finals, 107-105, from the now-defunct Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland.  They were the Bullets, not the Wizards, back then, and they ended up losing in five games to the Seattle Supersonics, who they had defeated to win their one and only title just one year prior.

Wall’s game-winning shot last night allowed the Wizards to go further than they have in 38 years. Had he not hit that shot, it would be the third time that he, Beal and Gortat would have lost in six games in the second round, and they surely would have felt like they were running in place. If they lose Monday night’s Game 7 in Boston, they will surely be disappointed, but perhaps they will find slight solace in knowing they have progressed further than they, or any other Wizards team in the past 38 years, have ever gone before. But if they defeat Boston and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, their confidence will be sky high against the World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.