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John Wall lifts Wizards over Celtics with dramatic 3 to force Game 7, takes shot at Celtics postgame 05.12.17 at 10:51 pm ET
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May 12, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) is fouled while dribbling the ball by Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (13) in the first quarter in game six of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas is fouled while dribbling the ball by Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (13) in the first quarter in game six of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

So close. But still so far. 

John Wall’s rainbow from 26 feet over Avery Bradley fell through the basket with 3.5 seconds left to give the Wizards a 92-91 win over the stunned Celtics in Game 6 Friday night at the Verizon Center. 

The prayer of a three sets up a Game 7 Monday night at TD Garden as the Wizards become the first home team to win an elimination on their home court in 11 tries this postseason. 

Isaiah Thomas’ desperation three at the buzzer clanged off the rim to set up the second Game 7 of these NBA playoffs. 

Al Horford’s bad angle bank shot with 7.7 seconds broke a tie and appeared to have sent the Celtics to the Eastern finals against LeBron for the first time since 2012. But instead, a winner-take-all Game 7 will decide matters in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Wall was ice-cold for the first three quarters before heating up when it mattered most. He and Isaiah Thomas reprised their Game 2 battle with each taking turns making big shots down the stretch. Thomas and Wall each had 10 points in the fourth quarter. But the difference might have been Beal, who scored 13 of his game-high 33 in the final period. 

The Celtics came dressed to kill in all black wardrobes on their way to the locker room, something not unnoticed by Wall, as he spoke to ESPN’s Lisa Salters moments after the game-winning shot. 

“I ain’t going home. Don’t come to my city, wearing all black, talking about a funeral,” Wall said. “We worked too hard for this. All we ask for is a Game 7, 50-50.” 

“Great shot by a great player,” Brad Stevens said of the Wall game-winner. “We’re going to guard it as hard as we can. We’re going to shake his hand and move on.” 

The Celtics were led by Thomas and Bradley, each pouring in 27 while Horford had 20. In addition to Beal’s 33, Wall scored 26 for the Wizards, who are now one win from their first Eastern finals appearance since 1979. 

Despite shooting just 4-for-17 in the first quarter and getting manhandled in the paint, the Celtics were able to stay close, trailing just 22-17 heading into the second quarter. 

Down 26-19 in the second quarter, the Celtics scored the next seven points, capped by an Avery Bradley three. 

(Click here for a complete box score of Game 6)

The Celtics caught another big break when Wizards big man Marcin Gortat picked up his third personal foul with 7:27 left in the first half. 

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Read More: 2017 NBA Playoffs, Boston Celtics, Bradley Beal, Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas (53 points) can’t be stopped, neither can Celtics as they rescue Game 2 from weary Wizards 05.02.17 at 11:03 pm ET
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May 2, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas (4) reacts during the first quarter in game two of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Washington Wizards at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas reacts during the first quarter in Game 2 of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Washington Wizards at TD Garden. (Greg M. Cooper-USA Today Sports)

The Celtics and Wizards series is getting down and dirty. It’s also turning into a classic after just two games. 

Isaiah Thomas, with his new smile, set a new personal playoff standard with 53 points, offsetting 40 from John Wall and the Celtics beat the Wizards, 129-119, in overtime in Game 2 Tuesday night at TD Garden. 

The brilliant performance from Thomas was the greatest of his career and ranks among the greatest in the storied playoff history of the Celtics. It also came on what would have been the 23rd birthday of his late sister, Chyna, who died in a one-car accident on April 15. 

“Today is my sister’s birthday. She would have been 23 today,” Thomas said after the game. “So, the least I could is play for her. 

“There’s no way I couldn’t play on her birthday.” 

In addition to the personal tragedy, Thomas spent six hours in surgery Monday fixing his front teeth and four more at the hospital on Tuesday, treating swelling, just hours before Game 2. 

There’s no other way to say it, the Celtics with Thomas look unstoppable and a team of destiny. 

The Celtics, who have won six straight games since their 0-2 hole against the Bulls, take a 2-0 series lead to Washington for Game 3 Thursday. Game 4 is Sunday, also in Washington. 

Bound and determined to not let another opportunity slip through their hands, the Wizards got physical and chippy at times to make their point. 

It was obvious early on that the Wizards had every intention of getting their best player involved much earlier than was the case in Game 1. There was no such wait in Game 2 as the Wizards, down a game, wanted to make sure they gave themselves the chance to come out of Boston with a split, a split they thought they were getting after the first six minutes Sunday afternoon. 

In the series-opener, the Wizards relied on the physical dominance of Marcin Gortat to race out to leads of 16-0 and 22-5. John Wall didn’t get going until the second half, finishing with 20 points and 14 assists in the 123-111 Boston win. In the first six minutes Tuesday, Wall had 11 points and four assists. He finished the quarter with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting. 

But with three minutes left in the quarter, Wall went up over Kelly Olynyk and fell over him, landing hard on the court. As he was bracing his fall, his left hand and wrist was caught under his body. He came up grimacing and holding the wrist but remained in the game, taking the next two possessions on drives to the basket.

Isaiah Thomas was nearly Wall’s equal early. The Celtics point guard was 6-of-10 in the first quarter with 15 points. 

“I don’t know what else there is to say,” Brad Stevens said. “I thought Isaiah was really going to have to gut this one out and he goes out and scores 50.” 

(Click here for the full box score).

The Celtics committed seven turnovers in the first eight minutes as the Wizards converted that into eight points. Boston finished the quarter with nine turnovers that led to 10 Washington points. Unlike Sunday, when the Celtics closed the first quarter with momentum that started their rally, it was Washington that ended the first on a 13-8 run to take a 42-39 lead. 

There was another fascinating showdown besides Wall and Thomas. Markieff Morris came back from a sprained left ankle in Game 1 and started Game 2. Intent on showing his physical presence early, and perhaps retaliation for Al Horford’s foul that led to his injury, he threw Horford into the first row of seats under the basket in front of the Wizards bench just three minutes into the game. No foul was called. Moments later, as the teams returned from the timeout, Morris and Horford had words, with each staring the other down. 

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Read More: 2017 NBA Playoffs, Al Horford, Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas
Brad Stevens says Isaiah Thomas is ‘good to go’ for return against Wizards 03.20.17 at 6:34 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas dribbles as Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) looks on. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas dribbles as Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) looks on. (Brad Mills/USA Today Sports)

After missing the last two games with a bruised right knee, Isaiah Thomas has been cleared to return against the Wizards. 

The Celtics All-Star point guard injured the knee in last Wednesday’s win over the Timberwolves and missed Friday’s win in Brooklyn and Sunday’s loss in Philadelphia. 

“Yep,” was Brad Stevens one-word answer in the affirmative when asked if the guard would be back in the lineup against a Washington team that is 1.5 games behind the Celtics in the race for the No. 2 spot in the East. 

Stevens said Thomas received plenty of treatment for the bruised knee over the weekend, making the most of time away playing. 

“Feeling a lot better,” Stevens said. “I think all the treatment over the weekend, which he had a ton of, was all positive. He’s good to go.”

Thomas sounded a bit more cautious, admitting that he wasn’t at full strength yet, “but I’m good enough.” 

Then he added, “I can’t sit this one out. I know what’s at stake. I know it’s a big game for us.” 

Stevens added that he doesn’t anticipate a minutes restriction for Thomas, who leads the team in playing time at 34.1 minutes a game. 

“I don’t think so,” Stevens said. “I haven’t heard that from the training staff. Usually, the minutes restriction is as much to do [with] extended periods of time as anything else.”

Stevens was asked if he could tell Thomas was ready based on the team’s walkthrough Monday.

“Well, our walkthrough happened at about 4:45 [p.m.] and it was a WALK through so I think he looked great,” Stevens said. “But I have no idea how that translates to playing in a stance or running up and down the floor but I’ve been told he’s fine.”

On the importance of holding off Washington for the second seed in the East. 

“I think it’s about playing good basketball,” Stevens said. “That stuff sorts itself out. Obviously, you want to be as good of a seed as you can. There’s no question about that. Again, I’d like to have some healthy games here to play good basketball and see if we can’t figure ourselves out as we head into the next month, plus.” 

Monday’s game is the opener of a season-long six-game home stand. Entering Monday, the Wizards and Pacers (Wednesday) were the only team with a winning record of the six teams. Much has been made of the newly-created rivalry in the media between the Celtics and Wizards, featuring Isaiah Thomas and John Wall. A battle for playoff position only fuels it. 

“My focus is on playing good basketball,” Stevens said. “When I think of rivalries, I think of years upon years upon years in the making. Certainly, we have a great deal of respect for how good these guys are. And that’s that. But we’ve got to focus on trying to do our best to play as well as we can against them, which means a lot of the focus has to be on what we’re trying to accomplish, and they’re going to be doing the same on their end. 

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Bradley Beal, Isaiah Thomas
John Wall brushes off postgame incident with Jae Crowder as ‘just some altercation’ 01.12.17 at 12:48 am ET
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Jan 11, 2017; Boston, MA, USA;  Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) is guarded by Washington Wizards forward / center Jason Smith (14) during the third quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) is guarded by Wizards forward Jason Smith (14) during the third quarter at TD Garden. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

On a night that Floyd Mayweather was courtside, it was only appropriate that Wednesday’s Celtics-Wizards game ended with a fight. 

As the players were filing off the court in the wake of Boston’s 117-108 win, the banged up John Wall crossed paths with Jae Crowder. The Celtics forward started talking to Wall, who took exception. Crowder pointed his finger in Wall’s face and the two teams started pushing and shoving, a melee that spilled into the tunnel leading to the locker rooms behind the Wizards bench. 

“Just some altercation,” Wall said when asked about it. “We knew there was going to be some trash talking.  We knew it was going to be a physical game. That’s all it was. Just a little trash talking and a physical game.

“My right pinky is messed up and my left wrist is swollen.  I’ll probably get an X-Ray and see what’s wrong with it.  I knew it was hurting.  I knew it was painful before the game.  It was a big game for us.  I just tried to come out and play through it and the results came out how it was.”

Brad Stevens said he didn’t see it but heard about it and reminded his players what was expected in terms of behavior.  

“I heard what was going on in the tunnel. All I did was walk out. There were only two guys that were walking in from the court from our team, and I just said, ‘Get in the locker room.’ And then I talked to the team about what we represent and that’s it,” Stevens said. “I don’t know what happened.  I have no idea – I haven’t asked yet. I’ll find out after I get back to the locker room.”

Crowder admitted it was a challenge to keep his cool in a game with such high intensity. 

“It was a good fight,” Crowder said. “It was a good fight. Both teams coming off a back-to-back. So the effort was truly there, and it was two teams playing hard.”

Crowder said he and the Celtics were very aware the referees were allowing a physical game. 

“We talked about that at halftime,” Crowder added. “The refs weren’t calling it tight, so we were able to get up into guys and play a little physical. And that’s what happened.”

 

 

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jae Crowder, John Wall, NBA
NBA Offseason: Wizards trade Rashard Lewis for Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza 06.20.12 at 3:04 pm ET
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This was a bit of a surprise. According to a report by Draft Express, and confirmed by several others including the Washington Post’s Michael Lee, the Wizards have agreed to trade Rashard Lewis and the 46th pick in the draft to the Hornets for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza.

First, the contract numbers: Lewis has one-year left on his albatross contract that pays him more than $23 million but he can be waived for $13.7 million, per Draft Express. Okafor is due about $14 million this season and he has an early termination option for the 2013-14 season, while Ariza will make over $7 million and has a player option for the following season at $7.2 million.

This could potentially save the Hornets up to $30 million and open up major cap space for next summer. With two first round picks and no long-term salary obligations — yet — the Hornets are well-positioned to build an entirely new team in new owner Tom Benson’s first season.

Eric Gordon is set to hit restricted free agency, but suddenly re-signing him to a large deal is less daunting minus that $20 million in contracts for Okafor and Ariza. A core of Gordon, Anthony Davis, whoever they get with the 10th pick and cap space isn’t a bad starting place.

For the Wizards, well, this is yet another step in yet another major overhaul. After years of being good with nothing to show for it, they settled into a painful rebuild around young players with no veteran experience, an approach that was criticized by Celtics coach Doc Rivers among others.

GM Ernie Grunfeld signaled the new direction when he traded Javale McGee for Nene at the deadline. Now he adds two more veterans at the cost of future cap space. If Grunfeld really wanted to clean house, he could use the amnesty provision on Andray Blatche who has been a major disappointment.

This move could also affect the draft where Washington could set their sights on Florida guard Bradley Beal with the third pick, rather than Kentucky forward Michael-Kidd Gilchrist, setting up a backcourt of Beal and John Wall to go with the veteran bruisers up front. They still have recent first rounders: Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin, Chris Singleton and Jan Vesley, so it’s not as if Washington is going the veteran route completely.

Whether Okafor and Nene can play together up front remains to be seen, but with Wall entering his third season it’s time to find out exactly what they have in the 2010 top overall pick.

Read More: 2012 NBA Offseason, Emeka Okafor, John Wall, Rashard Lewis
Your daily Rajon Rondo update: ‘Back to School’ 07.29.11 at 3:26 pm ET
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According to University of Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari, Rajon Rondo will join fellow former Wildcats John Wall and Eric Bledsoe as students at the school for the upcoming fall semester should the lockout continue.

As Kentucky Sports Radio’s Matt Jones noted, Rondo & Co. could practice with their former college team as student assistant coaches should they enroll full-time (12 credit hours in a semester).

Rondo left Kentucky after his sophomore year in 2006, while both Wall and Bledsoe departed following their freshman seasons in 2010. Presumably, the Celtics point guard is a lot closer to actually achieving his college degree than his counterparts on the Wizards and Clippers. Hopefully, the NBA lockout won’t last long enough for any of them to take two or three years of classes, although all three should be commended if they actually do enroll and attend college courses.

And there better be a “Back to School” reality show based on this with Rondo going around saying stuff like, “I hereby dedicate this building to myself,” “Bring us a pitcher of beer every seven minutes until somebody passes out, and then bring one every 10 minutes” and “Why don’t you call me some time when you have no class?”

I could go on all day with Rondo in “Back to School” scenarios, but I’ll spare you. Instead, check out this Rondo impression by Harlem Globetrotter Dizzy Grant and answer the poll question below …

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Read More: Eric Bledsoe, Harlem Globetrotters, John Calipari, John Wall
Irish Coffee: How the (Delonte) West has won 11.17.10 at 11:38 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Regardless of the weapons charges, his subsequent suspension, his reported scuffle with Von Wafer, the only thing that matters now is this: Does Delonte West‘s presence in the lineup make the Celtics a better team?

Since the Celtics traded him to Seatte three years ago, West played 185 games for the SuperSonics and Cleveland Cavaliers. In the same three seassons, those teams played a total of 143 games without him in the lineup — giving us a nice sample size to measure his value to a team. The results are fairly decisive …

With West: 117-68 (.632 winning percentage)
Without West: 75-68 (.525 winning percentage)

(NOTE: Because West was traded from Seattle to Cleveland midway through the 2007-08 season, those teams played 103 games without him.)

In 57 games off the bench for the Cavs last season, West averaged 9.0 points, 3.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 0.9 steals in 25.8 minutes while shooting 45.4 percent from the field, 33.8 from 3-point range and 82.5 percent from the free-throw line.

Outside of Glen Davis, those numbers are better than any other Celtics reserve this season — regardless of position. In fact, ever since they sent him to Seattle in the Ray Allen deal, the C’s have been searching for a guy like West, who can both spell Rajon Rondo at the point and assume a scoring load on the second unit.

The Celtics signed Sam Cassell in 2007-08 and Stephon Marbury in 2008-09 before trading for Nate Robinson last season. Let’s see how their contributions to the C’s compared to West’s production off the bench for the Cavaliers last season (leader in bold) …

  • 2009-10 West (57 games): 25.8 minutes, 9.0 points, 3.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 45.4 FG%, 33.8 3-PT FG% and 82.5 FT%.
  • 2009-10 Robinson (26 games): 14.7 minutes, 6.5 points, 2.0 assists, 1.5 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 40.1 FG%, 41.4 3-PT FG% and 61.5 FT%.
  • 2008-09 Marbury (23 games): 18.0 minutes, 3.8 points, 3.3 assists, 1.2 rebounds, 0.4 steals, 34.2 FG%, 24.0 3-PT FG% and 46.2 FT%.
  • 2007-08 Cassell (17 games): 17.6 minutes, 7.6 points, 2.1 assists, 1.8 rebounds, 0.5 steals, 38.5 FG%, 40.9 3-PT FG% and 84.0 FT%.

In terms of plus/minus, Robinson was a minus-53 last season when he was on the floor for the Celtics. IN 2008-09, Marbury was a minus-28. In 2007-08, Cassell was just a plus-17. Meanwhile, West was a plus-731 over the last three years. Essentially, with him on the floor, his teams have outscored opponents by an average of 4.0 points a game.

Clearly, West offers the C’s best option at guard off the bench in the Big Three era.

(For the record, my favorite line from the video that accompanies this blog is obviously: “You’d better have my doughnuts.” I’m going to start saying that to everybody I work with.)

RAY ALLEN SEPARATES CELTICS

The difference between the Celtics and Miami Heat, according to Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thompsen? Ray Allen. Despite being considered the fourth man on the C’s new Big Four, the 35-year-old shooting guard ranks second on the team in minutes (39.7, behind Rondo at 41.1) and points (18.8, behind Paul Pierce at 21.0) while shooting a blistering 45.9 percent from 3-point land.

“I know how to manage being part of the team and being productive,” Allen told SI. “You can never let it slip. Like you can’t say, ‘OK, I’m going to just take it by the wayside [and relax].’ You’ve still got to get your shots up and take care of your body and make sure you’re eating right and sleeping right. The minute you start thinking, ‘Well, I don’t want to do this anymore,’ or you start slowing down, then that’s when your game slows down and people start giving you less responsibility.”

Averaging 2.8 3-pointers per game this season, Allen is just 89 treys away from breaking Reggie Miller‘s all-time record. At the rate he’s going this fall, he’ll break the mark around the All-Star break. Just for fun, let’s take a loot at Allen vs. Miller at age 35 …

  • Allen: 39.7 minutes, 18.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 47.9 FG%, 45.9 3-PT FG% and 91.7 FT%.
  • Miller: 39.3 minutes, 18.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 44.0 FG%, 36.6 3-PT FG% and 92.8 FT%.

Keep in mind, Miller was the first or second scoring option on that 2000-01 Indiana Pacers team, depending on whether or not you’d consider Jalen Rose (20.5 ppg) the go-to guy.

MEET JOHN WALL

John Wall missed Tuesday night’s Washington Wizards game against the Toronto Raptors because of a sprained left foot, and he could be a game-time decision against the Celtics on Wednesday night.

If Wall is anything like Rondo, though, he’ll play, just to guage his level of play against one of the best point guards in the leagu — even if he doesn’t consider Rondo among the NBA‘s elite.

If you’ll recall, in Grant Wahl‘s Sports Illustrated piece on Wall as a freshman at the University of Kentucky, he listed “today’s gold standard: Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose.” Absent from the list was Rondo — the only guy to also play at Kentucky.

Speaking of the two point guards, in ESPN’s NBA Awards Watch, Rondo currently ranks second in the MVP race, while Wall ranks first among Rookie of the Year candidates.

HOW THE WEST WOULD BE WON

Well, we started with Delonte West, and we’ll end with him. While reintroducing West to Boston fans, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recall the romantic advice he gave to ESPN’s Page 2 during his previous tenure in the city. Here are a few highlights …

“So, I pick her up in my white convertible. From there, I’d have the music pumping on the radio. The Jim Jones pumping, you know, ‘Summer in Miami’ pumping. Got to keep a little gangsta; you can’t be too soft. You can’t be in there playing some guy that’s crying, talking about don’t leave me and love me baby, wah wah and all that. So Jim Jones pumping and then from there, wind blowing through the hair, boom, we get straight to the point — we eat afterwards because I don’t want to kiss no onions. I don’t want to kiss you tasting like onions and steak and mushrooms and everything.”

“We’re going to my yacht. We’ll pull up at the docks and got a guy waiting for us, open our door up and we walk down a lit-up dock and onto the yacht, where we have dinner set up on the boat and we just cruise out on the water. Sit down and have some dinner, some shrimps and steaks, keep it nice and breezy. Pop some bottles, some Moet Rose. The red Moet, we ain’t popping no Kristal, it tastes like urination. We ain’t popping no Kris, that’s $500 a bottle. It ain’t that serious. It ain’t going to get you drunk. Make sure you put that in there. We ain’t doing a $500 bottle, we’re doing a $99 wine and dine.”

“One more thing: When we’re on the yacht eating, we’re going to have some Popeye’s chicken. That’s for dinner. It’s to let her know, put a mental image on her mind, first and foremost, if you ain’t from the hood, you don’t like Popeye’s chicken. Everyone there loves Popeye’s chicken and the biscuits — phew. But that’s just getting it on her mind, saying, you know, ‘Yeah, I can wine and dine you, but I’m a little rough around the edges and I’m keeping it real with you. I can be romantic, but this is real, we’re going to eat some chicken tonight. Chicken and biscuits.'”

“OK, so from there, we’re doing a midnight skinny-dipping jump. Alright? From there, hopefully she’s got money because I hope Jaws gets her, boom, make sure she got me in the will, bank, I’m good. Oh well, shark got her! Jaws got her.”

 So, let me get this straight: The perfect romantic night is a pre-onions hookup followed by a Popeye’s chicken and biscuits dinner with Moet Rose (not Kristal, because it tastes like urination) and, finally, a skinny-dipping expedition where your date hopefully gets eaten by a shark. Got it.

Actually, I think if you follow the exact opposite of West’s advice, you’ll be good.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Delonte West, John Wall, NBA
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