The Celtics ran the Wizards superstar right into a wall last night
The Celtics pulled away late in the 3rd quarter of last night's game 7 victory over the Washington Wizards. One last ditch effort from Bradley Beal in the 4th quarter [he scored 12 of his game-high 38 points in the 4th] was thwarted by a sensational performance late from Kelly Olynyk who answered with 14 points of his own in the final frame. While Olynyk's late game heroics came as a surprise to everyone there was perhaps almost as big of a shock (ok, not really close) in that Wizards superstar John Wall was completely ineffective down the stretch in the biggest game of his career to date - or was that conclusion foregone?
Due to their lack of roster depth the Wizards have to rely so heavily on their two aforementioned stars to deliver for them night in and night out. Taking a look at the Minutes Per Game numbers for these current playoffs (via Basketball-reference) Wall and Beal finish 6th and 7th on that list respectively. Of the 5 players above them 4 of them went home in round 1, and their extended minutes have a lot to do with their teams desperation to avoid elimination. The other is LeBron James and I'm not certain that he is actually human.
In terms of Total Minutes in the 2017 playoffs Wall and Beal sit in the top two spots with over 500 minutes played [Wall 507, Beal 505]. The next closest player is our own Isaiah Thomas in 3rd with 465 total minutes played, almost a full game behind them despite playing just as many contests (13). Although Wall and Beal spent nearly the exact same amount of time on the floor the Celtics put an emphasis on wearing down the Wizards point guard this entire series. After Wall had his way against Atlanta the Celtics were going to make sure that he was going to have to work for everything he got in this series.
Just take a look at the comparison of Wall's per game numbers in the two series:
The tale of two Walls. While his scoring numbers didn't drop too severely his efficiency fell off a cliff. The Celtics being so deep and having a plethora of options to throw at Wall to wear him down, including Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart who did a lot of the heavy lifting in that department, was key. Smart said after the game last night that the C's wore down Wall to keep him shooting from the outside instead of driving and that was the plan all along. Via Jay King:
"He definitely did," Smart said. "He took (eight) 3s and hit one. We played them at their place, he hit a couple, the game-winner. His legs were just gone. That's what we just kept telling our guys, our coaching staff kept telling us, 'Just keep playing. Make sure he sees two or three. He's going to wear down. In Game 7, legs are gone.' And it does play a role and a big factor."
Dead legs indeed as Johnny Dubya faded in the 2nd half and was completely ineffective over the final 19 minutes of the 42 he played last night. It sure looked like he hit a wall:
John Wall Last 19 Minutes
3-pt FG 0-7
Wall still had some big games this series despite the extra attention, but that is what great players do. Make no mistake John Wall is one of the better players in the NBA but the Celtics players and coaching staff did a great job of limiting his effectiveness and making him work for every inch on the floor. You can bet the C's will try their very best to do the same with LeBron in the Eastern Conference Finals, but he's in an entirely different stratosphere than Wall.
While the Celtics deservedly took some heat for the "funeral attire" they wore to game 6 I'd like to point out that Wall jumping on scorers table wasn't the best look either: