The Washington Wizards entered play Wednesday needing a win to secure the franchise's first playoff berth since the spring of 2008. Luckily, they were playing the Boston Celtics, a 23-51 team that long ago punted on postseason contention, and who served as the foil for the Toronto Raptors' postseason-clinching victory last Friday. Washington raced out to a 15-point lead five minutes into the game and never rookie head coach Brad Stevens' squad get closer than seven the rest of the way; by the four-minute mark of the third quarter, the Wiz held a 17-point advantage and were well on their way to the win they've so long awaited.
It was a time for fun. A time for hijinks. A time for Marcin Gortat to goof around a bit.
Yep, that's "The Polish Hammer" taking part in a Celtics huddle just before a pair of free throws by Boston forward Jeff Green. I'd say he snuck in there, but 6-foot-11, 240-pound behemoths don't "sneak" — they lumber and linger and, evidently, somehow get accepted enough by Rajon Rondo to the point where the point guard/color commentator puts his arm around their waists:
Here's the full sequence:
You can't blame Gortat for feeling good, considering he'd spent the majority of his evening to that point bullying the undersized Boston front line. He finished with 22 points on 10 for 13 shooting, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block in 28 minutes of work in a 118-92 win that made Washington the sixth Eastern Conference team to punch its postseason ticket, joining the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Raptors, Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets.
The Charlotte Bobcats currently hold the seventh seed, and reduced their magic number for securing a playoff berth to three with a 30-point blowout of the Philadelphia 76ers. The New York Knicks took a thousandths-of-a-percentage-point lead over the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth and final playoff spot on Wednesday, thanks to the combination of the Knicks' win over the Nets and Atlanta's loss to the Bulls, although the Hawks currently hold the tiebreaker over the Knicks by virtue of their superior winning percentage against Eastern Conference competition.
All-Star point guard John Wall had 13 points and 10 assists, notching his 27th double-double of the season in the win that clinched the first playoff appearance of his four-year NBA career. As you might expect, he was in a celebratory mood as time expired, waving a towel and even getting down a bit at the urging of the big man the Wizards imported just before the start of the season, according to Michael Lee of the Washington Post:
After the game, Gortat was even able to convince Wall to dance at center court while the players gathered to celebrate the win.
“I knew John was a very good point guard and I knew he got incredible dance moves,” Gortat said. “I was trying to convince him for about six months to dance for me. Until that point, I was failing.”
Wednesday, though, was a night for successes, be they big (the long-hoped-for return to the playoffs), small (getting Wall to let loose with his moves) or even — OK, fine — a little bit sneaky.
Video via watchnba201415.
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