Eastern Conference Second Round – Game 1 – Wizards lead series 1-0
Wizards 102 – Pacers 96
May 5, 2014
Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Bradley Beal, fearless Panda.
Well. Everyone called it, but it was one of those things you just had to see yourself to make sure.
For the better part of tonight’s game, Washington had their way with the #1 seed Indiana Pacers. This is a real thing, Wizards fans.
The one thing about last night that I noticed (as a fan) is that I wasn’t worried for more than a grand total of five seconds of this game. Compared to the Chicago series, this is unbelievable to me. The Wizards have instilled such a sense of confidence within the fans that at no point do you think the Wizards can lose a game like this.
Times are good, fans.
The Wizards came out hot and forced two quick Indiana timeouts in the first quarter. And while Indiana tried to claw back on numerous occasions, the Wizards always found an answer.
Even with an abysmal third quarter and seeing the Wizards miss 12 straight shots at one point, the Wizards managed to keep the run to the minimum with their defense, and one Drew Gooden.
Yep. You read that right. Coming off the bench for a struggling Trevor Booker and a foul-ridden Nene, Drew Gooden had a huge impact on tonight’s game, going for 12 points and 13 rebounds. While many were calling for him to be pulled in late in the third due to some offensive struggles, Randy really didn’t have much option but to stick with him for defensive reasons.
+10 coaching points for Randy Wittman and the trust he has in his guys.
Indiana continued to pretend like they were going to go on huge runs in the fourth, but largely in part to Bradley Beal and the Wizards’ defense, Washington was able to hold out once again.
Thanks to their energy, defensive presence and three-point shooting, the Wizards continue to prove naysayers wrong and confidently win yet another playoff road game.
Trevor Ariza – 22 points, 6-6 3-PT, 6 rebounds
Make no mistake; Trevor Ariza is getting paid this offseason.
Whether Ernie and Ted decide to shell out the money or some other team in the league sitting at home right now watching the playoffs does, he is making a hell of a case for himself in free agency.
Coming out hot sinking three-ball after three-ball, Ariza picked up right where he left off in Chicago. The biggest concern coming in this series was Paul George, and Trevor handled this concern fantastically.
While George was one of the biggest factors for Indiana last night, he could have been much worse; and for the Wizards, they’ll take that. Ariza’s productivity on both ends of the court was superb and with Gortat playing like this in the postseason, you have to wonder which of the two Ernie is going to lobby for this summer.
A forgettable night for:
Marcin Gortat – 4-12 FG
While the stats don’t really look terrible, Marcin Gortat had yet another poor game as he seemed to bobble every pass and miss every easy bucket possible.
I mentioned after the Chicago series that he was probably going to get it together this series; and while I still believe in that fact, he’s got to find some easy buckets to get him going.
Too often his missed buckets were because he was taking too difficult of a shot or not getting good position in the post.
One thing you do have to give Gortat credit for is his defense tonight and the 15 rebounds he raked in. He kept Hibbert a non-factor in this game, but you still want to see the same production on the other side of the court.
Key stat of the game:
In the few games where every single thing seemed to go wrong for Washington in the Chicago series (although they worked it out in the end, obviously), the key was the fact that the three-balls weren’t going down whatsoever.
Well tonight, that thankfully was not a concern for Washington. The threes were floating with ease largely in part to Trevor Ariza’s contributions.
Since the threes were going down, this forced Indiana to cover the court much deeper which led to numerous opportunities to spread the offense and get the ball in the post and/or get to the line for some free points.
It’s not going to be this easy every game as I’m sure Indiana will make adjustments to defend the long-ball, but you have to be pleased with what you saw from the Wizards from long range tonight.
Here’s to hoping for more of Roy Hibbert being terrible because if this continues, Charles Barkley may be right.
The Wizards made this one look easy, and you have to think that even with some adjustments from Frank Vogel, Washington will still be able to prosper and take another one at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.