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Takeaways from Wizards' thrilling victory in Game 6 vs. Boston Celtics

Takeaways from Wizards' thrilling victory in Game 6 vs. Boston Celtics

They wore all-black attire in Friday’s attempted closeout of the Wizards at Verizon Center. The Boston Celtics, however, were turned away a bit red-faced as the ploy backfired and John Wall had the last laugh as his three-pointer with 3.5 seconds left won it 92-91.

The home team has won every game in this East semifinal that returns to TD Garden for a Game 7 on Monday to determine who meets the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Boston erased a 10-point first-half deficit, led by 87-82 in the final two minutes after a quick explosion by Isaiah Thomas and the Wizards tied it after a pair of stops on a three-pointer from Bradley Beal and free throws from Wall with 41.2 seconds left.

RELATED: WALL CELEBRATES WIN ON SCORER'S TABLE

The Wizards are 6-0 at home in the postseason.

Wall (26 points, eight assists) was listless for most of three quarters, Marcin Gortat (four points, 13 rebounds) was in early foul trouble and Otto Porter (36 minutes) went scoreless. as he missed all five of his attempts.

Like the Wizards in Games 1 and 2 when they had victory in hand in Boston, the Celtics wilted down the stretch.

This could’ve been the third Game 6 semifinal elimination in four years for Wall, Gortat, Porter and Beal (33 points, five assists).

But after Avery Bradley (27 points) made the go-ahead jumper, Beal responded with a drive by Kelly Olynyk to tie the score at 89 and set the stage for the finish.

Wall began shooting 1-for-9 but caught fire with three consecutive field goals, including a three-pointer, to tie the score at 50 in the third quarter. He scored 13 of his points in the third. Beal scored 13 in the fourth.

Then it was Beal who came alive to repeatedly beat the Celtics’ slower defenders off the dribble to get to the rim in the fourth.

Bradley, Thomas (27 points, seven assists) and Al Horford (20 points, six rebounds) weren’t enough for Boston to get over the hump.

A pair of foul shots from Jae Crowder (10 points, seven rebounds, eight assists) tied the score at 82 in the final four minutes. Horford’s difficult bank shot with 7.7 seconds left put the Celtics ahead 91-89.

The dislike between the teams made this a game the Wizards believed going in they couldn’t lose no matter the circumstances.

“It factors into it a little bit. I think it gets the fans more involved than anything,” Beal said before tipoff. “You get a little bit more edge, you can yell at them a little bit more, kind of disrupt them. I don’t know what it is. We don’t like each other. We both want to win. It’s competitive. It’s fun to me. I enjoy it. This is how hoops should be.”

It’ll last one more game.

[RELATED: Celtics players arrive at Game 6 against Wizards wearing all black]

--The Wizards went without a field goal in the last 4:10 of the second quarter. Wall didn’t have a point or an assist in the eight minutes he played. The Wizards went from a 40-30 led to trailing 42-41 at halftime.

--Defense is what got the Wizards back on top after trailing throughout the third quarter. They had multiple blocks to begin the fourth and consecutive baskets from Beal put them ahead 70-69 with 9:45 left. It was defense that got them the stops late, turning over Thomas who had a game-high five giveaways.

--Gortat picked up two fouls and had to leave the game. When he re-entered at 7:32 of the second, it took him just five seconds to pick up his third foul on a closeout of Thomas. He screened for Wall in the lane with 5:51 left in the third quarter and picked up his fourth foul. Coach Scott Brooks, however, stayed with Gortat in the lineup. His screen-setting and four offensive rebounds got the Wizards the looks they needed to close.

--Neither team shot the ball well from three-point range, but that didn’t make either bashful. Through three quarters, the Wizards were 5-for-24 and Celtics shot 11-for-35. Beal has been less than 30% for the playoffs and shot 1-for-8. He didn’t make any of his threes in Game 5.

--One of Ian Mahinmi’s strengths is supposed to be his ability to defend but he remained indecisive in closing out Horford at the three-point line and paid for it. Also he came up to trap Thomas to help Wall on the pick-and-roll, got too high and allowed the 5-9 point guard to split it. Mahinmi then picked up his fourth foul to stop the layup.

--Thomas picked up his fourth foul trying to defend Bojan Bogdanovic (four points) in the paint. Thomas stayed in the game, and though he’s usually a defensive liability he was even more of one as he was more concerned (and rightly so) with being on the floor in crunch time. The Wizards’ strategy to contain him worked again as he shot just 8-for-24 from the field.

--Both benches were limited as the Wizards got just 13 from theirs led by Ian Mahinmi (six points). Boston only got five points, with Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier going scoreless and combining to shoot 0-for-8.

[RELATED: Alex Ovechkin, Nationals players turn out to support Wizards in Game 6]

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Hawks All-Star Paul Millsap to opt out and enter NBA free agency, report says

Hawks All-Star Paul Millsap to opt out and enter NBA free agency, report says

What ESPN reported during the season will in fact come true, as Paul Millsap signaled his intentions to opt out of his contract with the Atlanta Hawks and become a free agent.

The newest report comes from Yahoo! Sports, who confirmed Millsap's plans. The 32-year-old will opt out of a deal worth roughly $21 million for the 2017-18 season as he aims for longer terms either with the Hawks or a new team.

Millsap, according to Pro Basketball Talk, could be in line for a contract that starts at $35 million per season. If he stays in Atlanta, that could be a five-year deal worth about $205 million. If he leaves to sign elsewhere, he could earn $152 million over four years.

It makes perfect sense for Millsap to opt out at this point given his age, the increase in the NBA's salary cap and the fact he's coming off another All-Star season. The 11-year pro averaged a career-high 18.1 points to go along with 7.7 rebounds per game this year in 69 games.

Millsap was the best player on a Hawks team that earned the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. He can do just about everything well as a mobile big man who can shoot from the outside and work in the post. Last season he was named to the All-Defensive team, as well.

At this point odds are good he stays in Atlanta given their interest and the fact they can pay him more. But he will be one of the most highly sought after players in free agency. Either way, it's something to watch for Wizards fans as the Hawks are their biggest competitors in the Southeast Division. If anything, him leaving could mean less Millsap vs. Markieff Morris and we can all agree that is not a good thing.

[RELATED: Wizards hope to sign Wall to contract extension]

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Wizards hope to sign John Wall to contract extension this offseason

Wizards hope to sign John Wall to contract extension this offseason

The Wizards haven't reached out to John Wall yet, but they expect to discuss an extension this summer with the four-time All-Star since he was named to the All-NBA for the first time in his seven-year career.

An extension with Wall will be the top priority of the offseason in which Otto Porter is also a restricted free agent, league sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com.

Wall signed a five-year, $80 million extension in 2013 when the salary cap was just less than $60 million. The 2013-14 season was the final year of his rookie scale deal and then the last three years have been part of the extension. He has two years left.

After the collective bargaining agreement was renegotiated and approved earlier this year, a Designated Veteran Player Extension was added. It's another mechanism to help teams retain their own free agents because they can offer significantly more money -- and an extra year -- than another team that doesn't hold his Bird rights. 

[RELATED: How much did fatigue play a role in how the Wizards' season ended?]

That All-NBA selection means that Wall, who averaged a career-high in points (23.1), assists (10.7), steals (2.0) and field-goal accuracy (45.1%), qualifies for 35% of the cap instead of the standard 30% max. Previously, a player was required to be in the league 10 years to be eligible for 35%.

Wall can add up to four years of an extension on the two years that he has left for almost $170 million.

From league sources close to the situation, Wall wants to see a bigger picture plan on where the franchise is headed before committing for longer. The Wizards won 49 games this season and advanced to the conference semifinals for the third time in four years. 

The salary cap for 2017-18 is projected to be almost double of what it was four years ago at $101 million. Before settling on what to do with Porter's contract, the Wizards have to figure out if they can lock in their best player and go from there in the offseason.

[RELATED: John Wall knows what Wizards need to upgrade for next season]