Isaiah Thomas is the heart and soul of the Celtics.</p>
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WALTHAM — It’s win or go home for the Celtics tomorrow night. 

Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics play the Wizards in Game 7 on Monday night. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics play the Wizards in Game 7 on Monday night. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM — It’s win or go home for the Celtics tomorrow night. 

Back in Boston for the the conclusion of a second-round war with the Wizards with Monday’s Game 7 at TD Garden, there’s undeniable pressure on the top-seeded Celtics to take that next step in their slow build return to contention and punch their tickets to an Eastern Conference Finals meeting with the Cavaliers. 

But don’t try to tell that to Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas. 

“I don’t believe in pressure,” Thomas, who scored 27 points in over 38 minutes in Friday’s 92-91 loss in Washington, said following Sunday’s practice. “I work too hard to be scared of any type of pressure. I’m treating it just like it would be Game 1.”

Still, there’s a definite buzz that comes with a Game 7, and one that Thomas has envisioned himself in long before Game 6 went final. 

“The best players play at their best in those type of situations,” Thomas said of the club’s opportunity in this game. “You always think of Game 7s. Those are exciting times. I definitely, as a little boy, dreamed of being in a Game 7 and winning a Game 7. And hopefully we can do that. It would be so good for this city and so good for this team to win tomorrow night.”

In a postseason run that’s come with Thomas receiving advice from a significant lot of NBA legends — Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett just to name a few — Thomas recalled a few Game 7 performances that have stuck out to him. 

“Paul Pierce vs. LeBron. That was a good one,” Thomas said of memorable Game 7 games that he’s watched. “Kobe’s had a few really good Game 7s. The last one I’ve seen, that I watched the other day, was [Allen] Iverson vs. Vince Carter.

“I think everybody’s excited. I think everybody’s ready. We know the Garden is probably gonna be the best we’ve ever seen.”

The Celtics have won an NBA-most 21 Game 7 contests in their franchise history, and are 18-4 at home in such situations. 

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

There’s been no shortage of drama when it comes to the second-round series between the Celtics and Wizards. 

So, naturally, the ending of Game 6 has come with some more. 

Wizards guard John Wall scored the game-winning shot in Friday's 92-91 win over the Celtics.

Wizards guard John Wall scored the game-winning shot in Friday’s 92-91 win over the Celtics.

There’s been no shortage of drama when it comes to the second-round series between the Celtics and Wizards. 

So, naturally, the ending of Game 6 has come with some more. 

On the wrong end of a 92-91 final that will send this series back to Boston for a decisive Game 7 on Monday night, Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas was left with 1.7 seconds left on his series-winning shot that came up just short.

But according to the NBA’s Last Two Minutes Report released following the game, Thomas should have had more time. 

A whole second more, actually. 

With a foul to give, Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. fouled Kelly Olynyk on an attempted inbounds pass from Al Horford with 3.5 seconds left in the game. And by the time the Oubre Jr. was whistled for the foul, the Celtics had 2.7 seconds left on the clock, but the clock bled all the way down to 1.7. 

“The foul is whistled with approximately 2.7 seconds left on the clock, but the clock runs to 1.7 seconds before stopping,” the NBA commented in their report. “The clock should have been stopped earlier automatically on the whistle or by the neutral clock operator. Instant replay is not permitted in this situation.”

While it’s easy to think of what could have been with that extra second, the report also indicated that Horford should have been called for an illegal screen on the Avery Bradley go-ahead basket scored with 39 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

So close. But still so far. 

John Wall’s rainbow from 26 feet over Avery Bradley fell through the basket with 3.5 seconds left to give the Wizards a 92-91 win over the stunned Celtics in Game 6 Friday night at the Verizon Center. 

May 12, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) is fouled while dribbling the ball by Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (13) in the first quarter in game six of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

May 12, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) is fouled while dribbling the ball by Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (13) in the first quarter in game six of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

So close. But still so far. 

John Wall’s rainbow from 26 feet over Avery Bradley fell through the basket with 3.5 seconds left to give the Wizards a 92-91 win over the stunned Celtics in Game 6 Friday night at the Verizon Center. 

The prayer of a three sets up a Game 7 Monday night at TD Garden as the Wizards become the first home team to win an elimination on their home court in 11 tries this postseason. 

Isaiah Thomas’ desperation three at the buzzer clanged off the rim to set up the second Game 7 of these NBA playoffs. 

Al Horford’s bad angle bank shot with 7.7 seconds broke a tie and appeared to have sent the Celtics to the Eastern finals against LeBron for the first time since 2012. But instead, a winner-take-all Game 7 will decide matters in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Wall was ice-cold for the first three quarters before heating up when it mattered most. He and Isaiah Thomas reprised their Game 2 battle with each taking turns making big shots down the stretch. Thomas and Wall each had 10 points in the fourth quarter. But the difference might have been Beal, who scored 13 of his game-high 33 in the final period. 

The Celtics came dressed to kill in all black wardrobes on their way to the locker room, something not unnoticed by Wall, as he spoke to ESPN’s Lisa Salters moments after the game-winning shot. 

“I ain’t going home. Don’t come to my city, wearing all black, talking about a funeral,” Wall said. “We worked too hard for this. All we ask for is a Game 7, 50-50.” 

“Great shot by a great player,” Brad Stevens said of the Wall game-winner. “We’re going to guard it as hard as we can. We’re going to shake his hand and move on.” 

Despite shooting just 4-for-17 in the first quarter and getting manhandled in the paint, the Celtics were able to stay close, trailing just 22-17 heading into the second quarter. 

Down 26-19 in the second quarter, the Celtics scored the next seven points, capped by an Avery Bradley three. 

(Click here for a complete box score of Game 6)

The Celtics caught another big break when Wizards big man Marcin Gortat picked up his third personal foul with 7:27 left in the first half. 

With Isaiah Thomas again on Bradley Beal, the Wizards were more effective taking advantage of that matchup, scoring 14 points in the first half. But Beal disappeared for the final five minutes of the first half. 

Foul trouble caught up with the Celtics as well in the first half as Kelly Olynyk picked up his third with 4:47 left in the half. The three-point play was part of an 11-2 run from the Wizards that put them ahead 39-30. 

Wednesday night, the Celtics took full advantage of the distribution from Isaiah Thomas, hitting wide-open threes and midrange shots. That was not the case early in Game 6. The Celtics missed 13 of of their first 16 shots from beyond the arc before Isaiah Thomas’ three with three minutes left in the second quarter. 

That three sparked a huge 10-0 run that tied the game, 40-40, in the final minute of the first half. Jaylen Brown’s offensive rebounding was a difference-maker. His offensive rebound with 45 second left led to a Crowder layup that tied the game. Then Marcus Smart found Avery Bradley with a perfect pass leading to an alley-oop dunk with seven seconds left, giving the Celtics the 42-41 halftime lead, their first lead since 2-0 to open the game. 

The Celtics shot just 35 percent in the first half but allowed just three points in transition. The other huge factor in the first half was Avery Bradley’s defense on John Wall, holding the Wizards point guard to just 1-for-9 from the field. 

While the Celtics were uncharacteristically cold from 3-point range, the Wizards were abysmal from beyond the arc, missing 13 of their first 14 attempts. They missed 14 straight attempts and went without a field goal for a seven minute span from the second quarter to the third as the Celtics went on an 18-3 run to take a 48-43 lead. 

The Celtics did a solid job of playing with the lead for the remainder of the quarter, maintain a 3-5 point lead most of the way and taking a 69-66 lead into the final quarter. 

With John Wall resting on the bench to start the fourth quarter, Bradley Beal converted two straight baskets, including a driving layup with 9:46 left to give Washington its first lead since the first half at 70-69. But Avery Bradley hit his fourth three in five attempts to give Boston lead again. Beal came back with his third driving layup to tie the game.

Isaiah Thomas hit a fadeaway midrange jumper with 2:08 to give Boston an 84-82 lead. His three with 1:34 left put the Celtics up, 87-82.  After Marcus Smart took a charge on John Wall, Thomas was trapped and turned the ball over, leading to a transition three from Beal with 1:09 left. John Wall hit two free throws with 41.2 seconds left to tie the game at 87. 

Bradley came back with a jumper out of a Stevens timeout for the lead with 39 seconds left, only to have Beal answer for an 89-89 tie. The Celtics called a timeout with 14.1 seconds left to set up the final possession of regulation.

Horford hit his amazing shot before Wall outdid him for the win. 

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Tyronn Lue and the Cavs may not be looking ahead to an NBA Finals three-match with Golden State just yet, but everyone else is. And Lue understands why.

Tyronn Lue

Tyronn Lue

Tyronn Lue and the Cavs may not be looking ahead to an NBA Finals three-match with Golden State just yet, but everyone else is. And Lue understands why.

Speaking to reporters after practice on Wednesday, the Cleveland head coach compared a potential third straight meeting with Steph Curry and Co. in the NBA Finals to a classic matchup of yore with local significance — Magic vs. Bird.

“Is it a problem? I don’t think so,” Lue told reporters. “I think a lot of people wanted to see Boston and the Lakers back in the day. I think nowadays, a lot of people want to see Golden State-Cavs. And it’s not a problem. Right now, it’s two of the teams playing some of the best basketball.”

The two squads have split their first two Finals encounters, with the Warriors outlasting a depleted Cleveland squad in 2015, and James exacting his revenge by overcoming a 3-1 deficit last year.

However, since then the Warriors have added Kevin Durant to take their game to another level. Both clubs are unbeaten this postseason, with Cleveland winning by an average of 16.5 points a game, and Cleveland’s average margin checking in at 9.6 points.

“So two of the teams that have been in back-to-back Finals — so, why not? Why not want to see it again?” Lue told reporters. “I don’t see why it would be a problem. I think last year had some of the best ratings, I think, in NBA history. I think now with them adding [Kevin] Durant and the way they’re playing, the way we’re playing, it can be even higher.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

Just because the Celtics were in the midst of trying to keep their season alive, didn’t mean Danny Ainge and Co. weren’t looking to the future.