John Wall just finished the best statistical season of his six-year NBA career, and the Wizards wouldn't have had the opportunity to advance to the Eastern Conference finals in Game 7 against the Celtics without his stellar play.
But due to a lack of depth that was evident all year long, which resulted in heavier minutes than usual for Washington's stars in the postseason, Wall ran out of gas when his team needed him the most, and it cost the Wizards the series.
The Wizards' All-Star point guard was outplayed by Celtics' reserve Kelly Olynyk, and that can't happen in a Game 7 with the season on the line. Wall finished with 18 points on 8-of-23 shooting in 44 minutes of action, while Olynyk had 26 points in 28 minutes off the bench -- including 14 in the critical fourth quarter, as Wall went scoreless in the period.
Boston came away with the 115-105 victory, in a game the Wizards led by six midway through the third.
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We all remember Wall's heroics at the end of Game 6, when he rose up and drained the game-winning three-pointer with just a few seconds remaining on the clock. But he was just 8-of-24 shooting in the game before that shot went down, and his shooting for the series ended up at less than 40 percent.
None of that is due to anything special that Boston did defensively, and Wall didn't just suddenly succumb to the pressure of playing deep into the postseason. Washington got nothing from its bench, so Wall (along with backcourt mate Bradley Beal) had to try to carry the load all by himself. And after seeing him miss his final 11 shot attempts of the season in his last 19 minutes on the court in Game 7, it's clear that fatigue was the factor he could no longer overcome, and it was the primary reason for the Wizards' demise.
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Olynyk's performance, meanwhile, exemplified the type of depth that is necessary for a team to have if it truly wants to contend with the league's elite. The only reason the fans in Washington knew who he was to this point was because he got under Kelly Oubre's skin enough to cause Oubre to level him in Game 3, which resulted in a suspension for Oubre in Game 4.
Now they know him as one of the players primarily responsible for ending their team's season.
Olynyk is far from a volume scorer; he averaged just nine points per game during the regular season, and scored just 12 points combined in the previous two games of this series. But all good role players can produce if they're put in the right situations at the right time, and that's where Olynyk consistently found himself in this one.
Boston also got key contributions from reserves Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, and the Celtics' bench players outscored their Washington counterparts 48-5 on the night, while none of their starters were on the court for more than 40 minutes.
Wall played 44, Markieff Morris played almost 42, and Beal played close to 46.
There aren't really any quick and easy fixes for the Wizards to make over the summer, because the team is essentially maxed out from a salary cap perspective and doesn't own a first-round pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. But it's painfully clear that they need to find a way to add some depth to what was otherwise a very competitive squad -- or else face the reality that the franchise star will likely burn out again when the team needs him the most.