Posted on May 16, 2017, by Travis Pulver
Everyone doesn’t believe in the supposed value of home field advantage. Not everyone believes that a player is going to do any better just because he is in front of his team’s fans or that there is some sort of psychological lift to playing on one’s home court.
The game is the game is the game. It doesn’t matter where it is played or in who it is played in front of. Yeah—try telling that to fans of the Boston Celtics or Washington Wizards right about now.
Heading into Monday night’s Game Seven matchup, each team had one three games—all at home. The only one that was close was Game Six, and an argument could definitely be made that John Wall and the Wizards fed off the energy in the crowd.
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Could Boston do the same in Game Seven and close the series out? As it turns out—yes, yes they could.
Washington was certainly not going to make it easy for the Celtics but found themselves down 2-10 quickly in the first quarter. By the time the first ended they were down four, 23-27, but in the second the Wizards found their shot and managed to pull ahead, 55-53, heading into the break.
The Wizards looked good in the third quarter, but late in the period, ahead by four they started missing shots while the Celtics couldn’t miss. A 13-2 Celtics run to end the third turned into a 22-5 run going into the fourth to take a 94-81 lead. But Washington quickly whittled it down to something more manageable by following Boston’s run with a quick 7-0 one of their own.
While the Wizards would stay within striking distance for most of the final quarter, they never came close to really threatening to take over the lead. When Kelly Olynyk hit a three-pointer to give the Celtics an 110-100 lead, the writing was on the wall.
When the dust settled a few minutes later, it was the Celtics earning a trip to the Conference Finals to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers with an 115-105 win.
“What a special opportunity to get a chance to compete against them [Cleveland],” Boston coach Brad Stevens said after the game.
The superstars all had good games. Isaiah Thomas recorded a double-double with 29 points and 12 assists. Bradley Beal had 38 points for the Wizards and John Wall was three rebounds from a triple-double (18 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds).
So—what was the difference in the game?
Easy—Washington got all of five points from its bench while the Celtics got 48 from their bench led by Kelly Olynyk’s 26-point night.
“Everyone gave their best tonight, and it turned out well,” Olynyk said after the game. “It was a team effort, hard work. It was a tough seven-game series. Both teams played hard, we outlasted them there. They are a great team. They made big shots all series.”
In the end, it was Boston that made more of the big shots that matter. They’ll move on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Game One will be Wednesday night in Boston at 8:30 PM ET on TNT.