The ticking clock doesn’t have John Wall nervous. He’s twice been in Game 6 elimination games at home. He’s twice lost them. The pressure brought by the circumstance is familiar.
“All we’re trying to do is get one game at home and force a Game 7,” Wall said Friday afternoon.
Friday is a rare spotlight day for the Wizards. The Capitals were packing their stuff across town in Arlington after losing Game 7 on Wednesday night. The Redskins will be out of the headlines until Saturday when rookie minicamp opens. The Nationals have played just more than a quarter of their games. Three of the four teams to play in the NBA’s conference finals are set. Only Boston and Washington are still grappling in a home-team dominated series that the Celtics lead, 3-2.
Wall is the leader in this postseason elimination game. He and Bradley Beal will do the talking, the heavy lifting, the responsibility carrying. When it’s over, they will either be at fault or congratulated for earning one more game in Boston.
In a small sample, these games have not gone well for them. In 2014 and 2015 they were eliminated at home in the playoffs. Add a truly bizarre current wrinkle: Home teams facing postseason elimination this season are 0-10. Wall even mentioned that troubling total off the cuff Friday.
“I’ve been in this position,” Wall said. “It’s my job to control this game as much as possible.”
The Wizards are counting on a simple line of thought. Think back to the 2-8 start. If, at that time, it was proposed Washington had to win two games to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for a swipe at The King, what would have been said? Universally, that would have been embraced.
However, if this series ends Friday night with Wall and Beal in the same lamentable spot as their other two postseason endings, their shots at the end of Game 2 will be remembered as anchors to the failure. Wall had what he called a “great look” to win Game 2 in Boston. He missed. Beal had an even better chance. He air balled. Those misses kept the home team’ run intact in this series. They also flipped all pressure from Boston to Washington at this late stage.
“It would be a disappointing season,” Wall said if they lose in Game 6 again. “It’d be a waste of time. Feel like the season was a waste if don’t to where we want to go. That’s giving ourselves one more chance to fight and see if we can get to the Eastern Conference Finals.”
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