One day after the Washington Wizards’ thrilling 92-91 victory against the Boston Celtics, the team practiced Saturday in preparation for its biggest contest: a winner-take-all Game 7.
Ian Mahinmi worked on his low-post moves while Kelly Oubre Jr. took dozens of 3-point jumpers and worked on his ballhandling.
But all the talk centered on All-Star point guard John Wall’s go-ahead, season-saving 3-pointer in the final seconds of Game 6 at Verizon Center Friday night.
“It is definitely one of the biggest shots I’ve been around,” said Wizards head coach Scott Brooks after practice. “That shot is right there with some of the biggest shots I’ve ever seen as a player and as a coach. John has put so much work into getting better as the season has gone on, especially from the 3-point line. It is something he’s going to improve on.”
Brooks said the team watched film Friday night and Saturday morning to try and figure out how to beat the Celtics in Boston on Monday, which hasn’t been done since April 2014.
On Friday, Boston outscored the Wizards on fast break points, 17-8, including at least three times when Celtics players leaked out after a Wizards miss or made basket.
Another aspect will be to ensure more players are involved in the offense. Wall, Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris were the only Wizards to score in the second half Friday.
Although Otto Porter Jr. took only five shots in the game, he made the inbounds pass to Wall for the eventual game-winning basket.
“The play was for [Beal] on the other side [of the court], but they did a good job of forcing him baseline. John came and made a good play,” Porter said.
As for his own performance of zero points, seven rebounds and two assists in nearly 36 minutes, Porter’s confidence hasn’t wavered.
“I just find other ways to affect the game,” he said. “Shot’s not going, then I try to play better defense. I’m not trying to hang my hat on offensive scoring. You definitely want to do more. … You want to compete in a Game 7 and get to the Eastern Conference finals. It’s all at stake.”
Dad and Puppies
Oubre was ejected in Game 3 and suspended for Game 4, but received plenty of support from Wizards fans who launched the #FREEOUBRE movement on social media. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis wore Oubre’s jersey courtside in the team’s Game 4 victory.
Oubre endured some harsh, derogatory taunts from Celtics fans upon his return in Game 5 in Boston, where he scored 13 points.
Back at Verizon Center in Game 6, he was scoreless in seven minutes of action, but made a key defensive play on the game’s final possession, purposely fouling Celtics center Kelly Olynyk and leaving Boston with just 1.7 seconds for ultimately unsuccessful game-winning shot attempt.
If Oubre isn’t in the gym working on his game, he talks to his dad and relaxes with his two French bulldogs.
“My dad [is] the only person I really talk to,” he said after practice Saturday. “He calms me down. Other than that, I am chilling with my puppies.”
Oubre thanked the fans who pulled for him when he was suspended.
“It’s a blessing,” he said. “It definitely made me feel love and I appreciate everybody. We’re a family.”