Eastern Conference First Round – Game 5 – Wizards win series 4-1
Wizards 75 – Bulls 69
April 29, 2014
United Center, Chicago, IL
Johnny Franchise books his team a flight back to DC. And the Bulls are not on the itinerary.
Remember about a week-and-a-half ago when only one ESPN “expert” picked the Wizards to win the series?
Remember when #WizardsTwitter was just hopefully optimistic that the Wizards would pull this out in 7 games?
Remember the time that when it finally came down to it, it would have been a disappointment if the Wizards had to come back to DC for Game 6 instead of closing it out?
Well go ahead and forget all that – the Washington Wizards are headed to the second round of the playoffs. Yes: it’s really happening, folks.
In a game that lacked a lot of emotion from Chicago (and even led TNT analysts to describe the atmosphere to be that of a regular season game), the Wizards found ways to capitalize off every Chicago miss; and there were plenty.
Chicago went a dismal 33.3% from the field on the night thanks to some terribly missed layups, but more importantly, the Bulls had to battle an impeccable defensive outing by the Wizards.
Chicago made their runs throughout the game, but never big enough to lead Wizards fans to panic like they did in the past four games. Washington always kept it manageable and won this game on the defensive end.
Thanks to some unbelievable rebounding and defense in the final two minutes, the Bulls never got a chance to capitalize on their chances to tie it up or cut the lead when Washington had a lead of only three for an entire two minutes.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a wrap for round one.
Nene – 20 points, 4 assists, 10-17 FG
After serving a one-game suspension, Nene came out guns blazing, hitting nearly every shot that he put up. Despite some nearly perfect defense from Joakim Noah at times, Nene was sinking that deep elbow jumper without even thinking about it.
During the season, I was often critical of Nene’s jump shots, wanting to scream “NO! NO! NO! NO!” everytime he took one as I sat in the press box, but Nene has proved himself to be a threat from anywhere on the floor.
The boos from Chicago mattered none as Nene once again proved to be not only a thorn, but one final rusty dagger in Joakim Noah’s side.
A forgettable night for:
Marcin Gortat – 2 points, 1-5 FG
This series hasn’t been too kind to Marcin Gortat to begin with, but tonight’s game brought yet another tough outing for the Polish Hammer. It’s difficult to tell what’s exactly been wrong with Gortat this series.
It could be the matchups with Boozer or Gibson, or it could be the fact he’s still getting acclimated to having Nene back on the court.
Either way, I still don’t remain too concerned as I believe Gortat will be poised to have a good series whether the Wizards face the Hawks or the Pacers.
While he did have a poor all-around performance, he managed to come up huge in the last minute-and-a-half of the game as he managed to get two tap-outs and one offensive board which led the Wizards to kill a solid 40 seconds off of the clock with the three point lead. We’ll speak more about this below.
Key stat of the game:
While this isn’t an official stat usually kept by the NBA officials, #Slapbounds (the word/hashtag to Jan Vesely’s favorite move) were the key to this Wizards victory.
The last two minutes were filled with a barrage of offensive boards and slapbounds from Marcin Gortat and Nene. These two sucked the final bit of life the Bulls had left in them by extending every single possession and draining the clock like a pus-filled blister after prom night.
These possessions took away any shot Chicago had at extending the lead. When all these slapbounds were occurring, the lead was only at three for Washington. This was a huge defensive effort and quite an exclamation point to end this wild, physical series.
Who cares. Let’s not worry about that right now. Wizards fans: your team just showed the national audience that they are serious contenders in these NBA playoffs.
Rejoice tonight. We’ll look more in depth tomorrow.