By now, you've seen Paul Pierce's game-winning shot in Game 3 of the Wizards' second-round playoff series against the Hawks, which is embedded above. That one shot helped wash away a nightmare that was in the form of a valiant Hawks comeback where they overcame a 21-point deficit to Washington early in the fourth quarter.
I decided early this week that I was going to Game 3, and I asked my mother to come with me. That was because Sunday is Mother's Day, and going to a playoff game -- even if it's just a day early would be a nice present for her.
But because I'm a season ticket holder, Mom -- who is a more casual NBA fan than I am -- takes these games for granted. It's because she can go to any game she wants, and she went to many games over the past several seasons. When I first asked her, I got a response that I often get, whether from friends and family members alike.
"Albert," she said. "Why don't you just sell the tickets online or something? It's the playoffs after all. Can't you make money out of them instead? The Wizards aren't going to make it past the second round anyway since John Wall's hurt."
I replied, "Mom, there's just something about this team that I haven't seen before. Even when they seem to get into a rut, they somehow get past it. I think they'll put on a great show on Saturday." Mom agreed since this is just the second-ever postseason game she has attended.
While we were watching the game on Saturday, the Wizards played some of their best team basketball of the season with Wall on the sidelines. Mom was impressed that multiple players were involved passing the ball to the open man, including Bradley Beal's nice dish to an Otto Porter slam dunk in the third quarter:
In a game where Wall wasn't playing, the Wizards still dished 27 assists as a team. Among the guards, Beal had eight to lead all players and Ramon Sessions had six. In addition, Porter and Nene had four each. And here's something even more impressive. They only committed 13 turnovers overall. No, Mom wasn't counting those stats.
The fourth quarter was tense. If there's one thing Mom hates about sports, it is the anxiety of close outcomes. After an enjoyable first 40 minutes of the game, the last eight minutes of regulation were nothing short of frustrating to watch at the time as Dennis Schroder looked like the next legitimate "Wizards Killer," and Mike Muscala made the game-tying three with 14 seconds left to set up the final play where Pierce ultimately made the game-winner.
Everyone around us was tense in those last 14 seconds. But man, when Pierce's shot went through as that final buzzer sounded, everyone around us was in pandemonium. We all exchanged high fives and were so pumped up about the Wizards potentially getting to a 3-1 series lead in Game 4 on Monday.
After the flurry of negative news this past week about Wall's left hand and wrist, it's hard not to think about that being realistic. The Wizards still have a ways to go before making the Eastern Conference Finals, but if they can play like they did Saturday, who knows what they can do without Wall?
As Mom and I left the game, she told me, "Albert, the Wizards almost gave me a heart attack giving up that lead. But thank god that Celtics star pulled through. I still can't believe Pierce is in a Wizards uniform. Why couldn't they get him earlier? This was a great game!"
I was glad to see that my mom enjoyed a big playoff win for this Wizards team. It is a memory that we can share for a long time.
Thank you, Paul for making Mother's Day just a little more special for my mom with your game winner tonight. My Mom and I will never simply take any game, especially those in the playoffs for granted again.