Game 3: Bulls at Wizards
April 25, 2014 at 8:00 PM
Verizon Center, Chicago, IL
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 106.7FM The Fan
Projected starting lineups:
C- Marcin Gortat
SF- Trevor Ariza
SG- Bradley Beal
PG- John Wall
C- Joakim Noah
PF- Carlos Boozer
SF- Mike Dunleavy
SG- Jimmy Butler
PG- Kirk Hinrich
I spent the first weekend of playoff basketball tied down in the Bay Area, California attending a a close relative’s wedding festivities. Barred from access to a television for most of my time out there, I was instead absorbed by an assembly of long-lost family members rekindling with one another for the first time in decades while imprisoned in an over packed living room being served bottomless glasses of tea and other choice middle eastern delicacies. I cringingly made my way back home late Wednesday night, bracing myself for the imminent DVR overload. Sure enough, I stayed awake into the wee hours of the morning cramming both games back to back and finally flushing away the frustrations of a criminally mistimed trip.
I must say, this was almost as good as the time I watched all the Godfather movies in one sitting. I bet you’re expecting me to start drawing cliché character comparisons to Wizards players and it’s probably fitting to do just that. I mean, as trustworthy and compliant as Nene has been it’s proper to assume him as Vito, the go-to man, the community savior, the Don. Kirk Hinrich? Gotta be Fredo all the way. And for those few awkward ass moments in the 4th quarter of Game 1, John Wall seemed like Tom Hagen when he came off the bench to check in before Randy Wittman told him “You’re out, John,” while Andre Miller aka old man Tessio played through until he gassed out.
But like the structure of the Corleone family in the first two movies, the Wizards never folded, they never crumbled, they never succumbed. They fought through three quarters, and then started taking heads in the 4th like Michael did the 5 Families. The exploited vulnerabilities like Michael did Carlo Rizzi. They maximized their assets like Michael did when he reassigned his staff.
The feeling of 2-0 is definitely surreal for the entire fan base and DC media, and its reflections show vividly throughout the city, in almost every topic of conversation, and on every social media outlet.
So, finally, to prep for Game 3, here’s what I’ve pulled so far from this series.
Kirk Hinrich be like: “MAN, I wish a brotha WOULD make me rip off these goggles on ‘em.”
It’s clear that we all LOVE to hate Kirk Hinrich. I’m not sure if the ex-Wizard factor is really a factor, but the Google glasses and the Chandler Bing haircut certainly are. Either way, Hinrich’s skill level measures not far beyond mediocrity while his capacity for instilling fear in his adversaries is even worse/borderline mortifying.
Going into the series, I assumed Wall would favor his matchup against Hinrich because seemingly it was the perfect one to get him warmed up for his first quest for NBA supremacy. So far after two games it’s fair to say that Hinrich’s backup, D.J. Augustine, has been way more of a bitch to deal with than Hinrich probably has ever been but more on that later.
As for Hinrich, besides a few gimme shots and break away layups, he hasn’t been much of a threat unless you really consider his goggle-ripping counteraction against Bradley Beal to be menacing. And if that’s the case, you probably also enjoy Hello Kitty desktop wallpapers and .
John Wall: Gradually settling into a groove
Presumably, the best of John Wall has yet to come in this series. It has to or those lengthy hair strands rooting out of his chin also known as the superstitious “playoff beard” will have achieved him, and us, nothing. Throughout the first two games John has struggled with his shot; started off a foot slow on defense and as mentioned before, in the fourth quarter of Game 1 was called off the bench by Randy Wittman only to be sent back in favor of a hot Andre Miller. Surely the move raised a few eyebrows around the District but ultimately it was the right call by Witt, who was was simply maxing out Miller’s limited breath intake while Miller was carving up DJ Augustine.
Wall’s been solid, though, and he’ll continue to be okay. He amped up his defense against both Hinrich and Augustine late in Game 1, and facilitated the ball well in key moments of each game. And as dismal as the Wizards have been at the free throw line, Wall has made 11 of his 15 attempts including some critical ones down the stretch and in overtime of Game 2.
What this means for Game 3: As long as Wall continues to smartly anchor the offense with minimal mistakes and the guys around him continue playing like they have, Wall will be fine. I’m not crazy about the multitude of jump shots he’s taken thus far but in his defense, a good portion of them have been good looks. He’s just not hitting them. Wall has certainly had the convenience of a
BEAL vs. BUTLER: #BigPanda tested, #BigPanda unfazed.
After missing a few passes early in Game 1, John Wall recovered shortly after and executed a floating kick out pass over the reaching arms of Jimmy Butler to the corner for Beal. Butler, who is admirably inclined on defense closed out sharply on Beal, forcing Beal to try and beat him off the dribble.
YEAH. NO PROBLEM.
What we’d begin to notice from there on is Beal’s unfazed demeanor and assertiveness to continue attacking Butler to the rim. Beal’s relatively new found nature of force has left Butler on his heels trying to defend the ball and it’s been great.
Beal’s aforementioned tenacity in Game 2 has helped him blossom after a slow start to the series and has served as an element to the Wizards offense that Chicago has yet to figure out.
Martell’s 4-point play goes national
All season long, we’ve found the prominent Martell 4-pointer to be an inevitable occurrence on any given play, and on any given night. Even more so in the postseason now after launching this one early in the 2nd quarter of Game 1. As Jamal A. notion at in his piece yesterday, the Wizards are slowly putting the sports world on notice, one big play at a time.
As part of Wittman’s playoff rotation, Martell has been on the floor with first unit players more than he has most of the season and it’s been OKAY. We know ‘Tell’s game is merely one-dimensional except for the occasional burst to the rim and that’s been the case thus far in this series as well. With a feisty approach from everyone on the court, Martell needs to find his ground and mark it defensively.
With fate in “God’s hands”, Nene is turning everyone into believers
A crumbling lower body that’s been all but duct taped together, a thousand alarm clocks worth of missed minutes due to post-injury restrictions, an asset that often times is instead considered a liability. We’ve managed to enjoy Nene in spurts of various lengths throughout his tenure in D.C. At certain points, we’ve enjoyed him for less of the time his ice tub has.
But after the two first games of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, we can’t recall any of that, right? Nene has morphed us all into amnesiacs thanks to a superbly dominating start to this series, a start so strong that it’s left the NBA’s newly appointed Defensive Player of the Year looking more like a Vakidis from Semi-Pro. Through two games Nene has shot over 63% and averages 20.5 points. He’s exploited his range and dominated the paint. Mindless of whether his jumpers are contested or not, Nene has gone numb from the midrange, knocking down shot after shot.
I wrote a few weeks ago about Nene’s presence on the floor on both ends of the floor. He creates options and provides elements. The offense is dissected into two partitions with Nene on the floor, with the other partition being John Wall, both serving as facilitators.
Operation: BOX OUT
Actually, Operation Destroy Taj Gibson. Somehow. Someway. Gibson freaked out on the Wizards in Game 2, manhandling players under the rim using them as springboards for loose balls with no regard for human life. He’s totaled 12 offensive boards in the first two games, nine of which came in Game 2 alone. He ruined solid defensive possessions by the Wizards by generating second chance opportunities. He can be the reason the Wizards lose any games in this series from here on out. The Wizards have to game plan for this because when dealing with Gibson, it doesn’t necessarily matter if you’re in front of him pushing him away from the ball. He’ll just slink his arms around or over you for a clean attempt at grabbing the ball.
Trevor Booker so needed this.
After a forgettable first playoff game in which his lack of size deemed him useless against the Bulls’ front court, Booker was sparked and determined for a make up outing. In Game 2, Booker first made his mark in the first quarter after a monster offensive rebound before sizing up sdfasd and splashing a jumper in his grill. Shortly after that play, Booker planted Gibson on his ass going for a loose ball. But I made a notion before the playoffs about the vitality of Trevor Booker and the potential for him to be a difference-maker at any given point of the game. Booker was just that in Game 2. With Gortat struggling against Chicago’s pick and roll defense, Booker took his spot for the final five minutes of regulation and overtime. While his undersized fram as a power forward can certainly be questioned, the heart of Trevor Booker most certainly cannot.