Isaiah Thomas John Wall
Washington Wizards point guard John Wall defended by Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas during the first quarter in Game 2 of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden in Boston on May 2, 2017. Reuters/Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The second-round playoff series between the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards features two of the NBA’s most exciting players. Isaiah Thomas and John Wall are going head-to-head, looking to earn a spot in the conference finals for the first time in their respective careers.

Neither team is a legitimate contender to win the NBA Finals, and the winner of the series will likely go on to lose to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. But the best-of-seven set is probably the most entertaining in the conference semifinals, and much of that has to do with the play of the star point guards.

Boston took a 2-0 series lead in an epic point guard battle in Game 2. Wall was incredible, scoring 40 points and dishing out 13 assists, nearly allowing the Wizards to steal home-court advantage. Thomas, however, stole the show by carrying the Celtics down the stretch, scoring a combined 29 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to finish with 53 points in the victory.

Thomas’ performance was truly one of the great sports moments in 2017 for a number of reasons. Not only did he score more points than anyone in the playoffs in the last 14 years, but he did it at just 5’9, standing seven inches shorter than Wall. Thomas made history on the birthday of his sister, who tragically died less than three weeks ago in a car accident.

Despite his size, Thomas has had big games all season long. Leading Boston to the best record in the East, he was third in the league with 28.9 points per game.

Thomas often gets compared to Allen Iverson because of their size and ability to score. The former Philadelphia 76ers’ star, however, was never as efficient as the Celtics’ All-Star, who took just 19.4 shots per game in the regular season. When Iverson won the MVP award and led the 76ers to the 2001 NBA Finals, he averaged 31.1 points on 25.5 shots per contest.

Thomas might be a legitimate MVP candidate if he wasn’t a liability on the defensive end. As for Wall, he’s a much better two-way player, and he gives the Wizards a real chance to upset the Celtics in this series.

The improvement in Thomas’ game has been more noticeable this season, but there’s no doubt that Wall took a leap in 2017, as well. He averaged a career-high 23.1 points, and he remains one of the league’s best distributors. Only James Harden averaged more assists than Wall, who handed out more dimes than even Russell Westbrook.

Few players had a better first round than Wall, who averaged 29.5 points and 10.3 assists in Washington’s six games against the Atlanta Hawks. With Bradley Beal at shooting guard, he gives the Wizards one of the league’s best backcourts, and possibly the best chance to upset the Cavaliers before the finals.

Wall’s Game 2 performance is even more impressive when considering how poorly Beal played. Blanketed by one of the league’s best perimeter defenders in Avery Bradley, the shooting guard missed 11 of his 15 field goal attempts. The point guard took over without the help of Washington’s No.2 scorer, and the Wizards will be dangerous if Beal or someone else can take some of the scoring load off Wall’s shoulders.

Thomas and Wall might not be in the same conversation as the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, who will probably be competing in the finals. But they’ll be a lot of fun to watch as long as they’re in the playoffs.