Playoffs D.C. Council Game 2: Wizards 82 at Pacers 86: Wiz Kids Drown in Hero Ball While Hibbert Bails Out Indy’s Boat
Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council: setting the scene, recapping key points, providing the analysis, evaluating players, and catching anything that you may have missed from the Washington Wizards. NBA Playoffs 2014, Round 2, Game No. 2: Wizards at Pacers; contributors: Adam McGinnis, Adam Rubin, and Kyle Weidie from the land outside of Indiana.
Washington Wizards 82 at Indiana Pacers 86
But Polish Hammers Were Involved…
The Wizards lost, but just barely. The slim difference in the outcome was due to Washington’s inability to knock down 3-pointers (5-for-20), make their free throws (5-for-12), get the ball out in transition (one fast break point), or get many second-chance points (four, compared to 19 in Game 1). All season, if the Wizards shot poorly from the 3-point line, they usually came away
with the short end of the winning stick. Considering Nene’s mid-range game has become almost automatic, his repeated poor delivery (43 percent in the playoffs) from the charity stripe (0-4 FTs) is frustrating to endure. The postseason has not changed the fact that this team stinks at both getting to the line and converting free throws. Washington averaged 15.6 fast break points per game on the season and their only point versus the Pacers in Game 2 was on a free throw after Gooden was cherry picking.
Washington’s defense was able to choke out the Bulls in several of their victories and the Wizards’ ability to hold Pacers without a field goal during a seven-minute stretch late in the fourth quarter was instrumental in Washington’s Game 1 triumph. In Game 2, the defining stretch took place in the fourth quarter. After a Nene basket gave Washington a 75-72 lead with 5:47 left in game, the Pacers scored on five straight possessions (three layups) to take a 82-79 lead at 2:57 mark. Wall and Beal then
took turns jacking up wild 3-pointers and although other things occurred, that was the ball game.
Hibbert’s breakout game and the Wiz Kids’ late fumbles will get much attention over the next few days, but the failure of the Wizards to get a stop in any those
five Indiana offensive trips is a key reason why this series is now tied up at one apiece.
—Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)
The national media will be talking about the resurgence of Hibbert in Game 2, but Marcin Gortat was just as impressive. Whereas most of Hibbert’s points came at the expense of Indiana’s normal offensive scheme (and with the aid of several missed travelling calls), Gortat got his in the flow of the game. It seemed like anytime Washington needed a basket, Gortat was rolling to the rim for a thunderous dunk or an easy layup.
One wonders if the outcome of the game would have been different if Washington continued to feed Gortat late in the fourth quarter instead of jacking 3-pointers on three straight possessions with Indiana clinging to a three-point lead.
The silver lining of Hibbert’s breakout—if there is one—is that if Hibbert is going to be on the court for 30-plus minutes per game, Gortat should be able to continue punishing him on the defensive end with a healthy diet of pick-and-rolls.
—Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)
After a masterful floor presence in the Wizards’ Game 1 victory, John Wall delivered a dud performance in the clutch on Wednesday night. He took ill advised 3-pointers and committed a costly turnover (which was curiously scored as a missed layup) in the final minute that allowed the Pacers to basically put the game away on the next possession with a Stephenson dagger.
Wall continues to shoot poorly from the field in the playoffs (32.7%) and 3-point range (16.7%). Roy Hibbert’s impressive rim protection prevented Wall from drives and the Pacers halted Wall from using his trademark speed on run outs. Wall is going to have to make more than two buckets in a contest (2-13 FGs) if the Wizards are going to advance in this series.
—Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)
Forget Bradley Beal the scorer for a second. In these playoffs, he has upped his per 48 minutes rates from the regular season as follows:
- eFG%: 47.9 to 51.4
- FTAs: 3.6 to 6.1
- Rebounds: 5.2 to 5.8
- Assists: 4.6 to 5.8
- Steals: 1.3 to 2.0
- Turnovers: 2.4 to 2.6
- Blocks: 0.3 to 0.7
Aside from the increase in turnovers, which is rather incremental, this is what we call growth. It’s a temporary burial of midrange game concerns to highlight the fact that we’ve been wanting Beal to rebound more, shoot more free throws, and drop more dimes—like we’ve thought him capable of doing—the whole time, and now he is.
But about that midrange game… Beal is shooting 32.6 percent from the area in the playoffs versus 37.1 percent in the regular season. No, not ideal in either case. Against the Pacers in Game 2, Beal went 3-for-6 from midrange, but 2-for-6 from deep. It’s not all on Beal, but if he hits another 3 or so, or gets to the free throw line more than a 1-for-2 effort, we are telling a different story today.
Beal has shown a lot of growth this postseason, and his stat line from Wednesday gets him the top aide, but if the Wizards expect to advance, he’s got to grow a bit more, and more importantly, some of his teammates, his backcourt partner in particular, need to grow up with him.
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
That Session Was … A Lesson
With 5:01 left, Bradley Beal hit a free-throw-line jumper to put the Wizards up 77-74. The game seemed like it was in Washington’s control.
But then Nene, to a man, did not stop Hibbert and let him roll clear to the hoop from the perimeter, at which point Hibbert gave Gortat an awkward pump fake (that he bit on) and scored.
Beal then gave Gortat a pass too low on the pick-and-roll … turnover. The Pacers went the other way for an easy fast break bucket. Wizards defenders ran but there wasn’t much they could do. (Indiana bested Washington in fastbreak buckets 10-1 on the night.)
On the other end, Nene jab- and pump-faked Hibbert on the perimeter before driving through the lane like a tractor-trailer and missing a tough, left-handed shot. On defense, with Gortat staying with the jump-shooting David West off a screen, Nene did not step in the paint to curtail a huge Paul George dunk. Suddenly, the Pacers were up 80-77.
And even though the Wizards, and John Wall, seemed to respond with a drive and lob to Gortat for a smooth bucket, Indiana had seized momentum and the Wiz Kids curled up in their hero ball shells.
Via ESPN Stats & Info, in the last five minutes of both games this series, Washington’s average shot distance is five feet farther from the basket than Indiana’s. The Wizards attempted just two free throws in the fourth quarter—when Drew Gooden went 1-for-2 from the line barely 125 seconds into the period.
Quick ain’t fair, but not using it to get to the basket and earn trips to the free throw line pretty much evens out the fairness. Lesson learned? That remains to be seen.
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
TNT’s Kenny Smith remarked after the game that Wittman did not properly adjust its defense to Roy Hibbert. But I am not so sure. Hibbert certainly scored a lot. But it came at the expense of the Pacers other interior offensive weapons (David West was 3-for-8 from the field, Luis Scola was 0-for-4). Frank Vogel force-fed Hibbert and he somehow managed to convert 10 out of his 13 awkward, plodding field goal attempts. Perhaps Gortat and Nene should have been more aware of Hibbert when he was lingering on the weak side, but Wittman should not be chastised for refusing to sell out his defense to stop the lead-footed big man.
On offense, this was the first playoff game where Washington’s regular season late-game offensive deficiencies reared its ugly head. Washington’s offense was rolling midway through the fourth quarter en route to a two-point lead but it went south in the final few minutes.
It might not be fair to blame Wittman for Washington’s late-game shot selection, but he has seen it happen enough times in the regular season that he should have a feel for when a timeout is needed to settle his team down. And during that timeout it would not have been a bad idea to draw up a few more high pick-and-rolls with Wall and Gortat to draw Hibbert away from the rim and open up the paint.
—Adam Rubin (@LedellsPlace)
2 out of 5 stars
36 mins | minus-7 | 6 pts | 2-13 FGs | 0-4 3Ps | 2-2 FTs | 8 asts | 1 blk | 1 TO | 1 stl
Unfortunately, this was not the same John Wall that Conor Dirks praised on the Mothership. It was not just the missed shots. It was the failure to do what he has done so well all post-season—manage the game and make sure Washington gets good looks. The two-minute stretch at the end of the fourth quarter where the scoreboard was frozen at 82-79 for five straight possessions says it all. Pre-Dirks-article Wall would have calmly run a pick-and-roll with Gortat or driven to the rim and set up a teammate. Post-Dirks-article Wall rushed two 3-pointers and lost the ball on a forced drive against George Hill.
It was not all bad. Wall had several nice assists to Gortat and he finished with an 8:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
But it wasn’t all good – and all good is what Washington has come to expect from Wall in the playoffs. —A. Rubin
3 out of 5 stars
44 min | minus-8 | 17 pts | 7-15 FGs | 2-6 3Ps | 1-2 FTs | 5 rebs | 7 asts | 2 stls | 4 TOs
Beal certainly grabbed the Pacers’ attention in Game 1 and Frank Vogel switched Paul George onto Beal for much of Game 2. Beal did not seem to have too much difficulty with PG’s length but it is always nerve-racking watching Beal run circles on the perimeter trying to get free with George and Lance Stephenson lurking in the passing lanes.
With Wall having an off night, Wittman leaned heavily on Beal. He almost played the entire game and spent a fair amount of time running the point, not just with the second unit, but also for several possessions in the fourth quarter when Wall was on the court. He had a decent shooting night but you just got the feeling that the only way Washington would escape with a win is if Beal went off for another double-digit, fourth-quarter scoring run. He did not. —A. Rubin
2.5 out of 5 stars
37 mins | minus-8 | 6 pts | 2-8 FGs | 2-7 3Ps |8 rebs | 2 stls
The Hookah smoke was finally put out in Bankers Life Field House. Ariza shot a pedestrian 2-for-7 from 3-point range compared to his perfect 6-for-6 night in the series opener. Many of his misses were on open looks, too. The Chilled Bruh found other ways to contribute with eight rebounds and shut down Paul George for almost the entire evening. Ariza had George rattled like he was on Maury waiting for the results of a paternity test and the Pacers All-Star small forwardly repeatedly conceded on driving to the hoop. Unfortunately, the only two times George was able to successfully get by Ariza were on key buckets late in the game. —A. McGinnis
2.5 out of 5 stars
36 mins | minus-14 | 14 pts | 7-14 FGs | 0-4 FTs | 5 rebs | 2 asts | 1 blk | 2 PFs
Nene put a scare in the hearts of an over-reactionary Wizards Nation when he tweaked his ankle—looked like it could have been a knee, too, perhaps—leading to a trip to the locker room and a high amount of pressure on panic buttons galore. His return to the court wasn’t that Willis Reed-like, especially because the Wizards lost.
Before the scare, Nene was 2-for-5 on FGs with two missed free throws, two rebounds, and a block. Post-scare, he was 5-for-9 on FGs with two more missed free throws, three rebounds, and two assists.
So, let the big man complain about soreness while we complain about his defensive lapses toward the end (especially those described above when Indiana went from down 77-74 to up 80-77). The Wizards will need Nene to stay motivated and to continue to draw fouls on Pacers, despite his free throw issues, if they expect to respond to any haters in Game 3.—K. Weidie
3.5 out of 5 stars
37 mins | minus-6 | 21 pts | 10-15 FGs | 1-2 FTs | 11 rebs | 1 ast | 3 PFs
Gortat (21 and 11) was almost more of a monster than Hibbert (28 and 9). Of course, the Pole has been dependable and didn’t have to start from the bottom, trapped in the shell of an ocean-dwelling filter feeder to get there. Plus, Hibbert managed to go 8-for-8 on free throws (while Gortat went 1-for-2), drawing the sympathy vote on several occasions from the pageant of referees. (Are you really telling my that Hibbert losing his balance with minimal contact, seen in the Vine below, was a playoff foul?)
The Pacers ran just one post-up play in Game 1 and 16 post-up plays in Game 2 (via ESPN Stats & Info). Hibbert
got nine of those looks and went 8-for-9 on FGs. Gortat, and Randy Wittman, knows that something needs to change to prevent Indiana from getting interior looks, so expect playoff adjustments to be made.
But it also should be expected that the Wizards look for Gortat even more.
In Game 1, the pick-and-roll roll man got the ball for a field goal attempt, trip to the the FT line, or turnover nine times and produced just 0.67 points per possession (PPP). Nene went 2-for-5 with one turnover, Booker committed a turnover, Gooden went 1-for-1, and Gortat went 0-for-1 (via MySynergySports.com).
In Game 2, the roll man got 11 such chances and the Wizards produced 1.64 PPP off that (9-11 FGs). Nene went 5-for-6, Gooden 1-for-2, and Gortat 3-for-3. If Washington guards can find a way to create and look for their bigs more—and stop trying to be the hero toward the end of games—you would see more trips to the free throw line and more offensive success. Sounds like more adjustments are needed. —K. Weidie
3.5 out of 5 stars
16 min | plus-11 | 5 pts | 2-4 FGs | 4 rebs | 1 ast | 1 TO | 4 PFs
Gooden definitely had his peeps at the Rockville (North Bethesda) Whole Foods jumping with his scrappy play in Naptown. Gooden kept the good times rolling from his monster Game 1 with more solid burn, with several taps-ins and nice hustle sequences, and he continues to eat into Trevor Booker’s minutes. Drew finished with a plus/minus of plus-10. He is a mystery on defense with random lapses, but he should still be in Wittman’s rotation for the near future. —A. McGinnis
2 out of 5 stars
16 mins | plus-11 | 5 pts | 2-4 FGs | 1-3 3Ps | 4 rebs | 1 ast
Upon entry into the game, Martell made three straight positive outputs with two made jumpers and a nice dish to Gortat for a lay up. There was a chance that this could be finally the playoff debut of the “Martell Webster Game.” He then immediately missed a terrible heat check corner 3-pointer and was quiet the remainder of the contest. Early in the fourth quarter, when Nene got switched onto Webster’s guy, Martell bizarrely left Nene’s man, Hibbert, who easily got a wide open dunk. There was no “Unveiling the Wizard” on this night. —A. McGinnis
3 out of 5 stars
7 mins | even-0 | 2 pts | 1-1 FGs | 3 rebs | 0 asts | 1 blk | 0 TOs
It was another short appearance for Booker in Game 2. Booker did as much as could be expected with his limited opportunity. He confidently drained a jumper, grabbed some rebounds and blocked a shot. Drew Gooden was not as active as he was in Game 1 so it is possible Booker will be unleashed when the team returns to D.C. Washington seemed to lack its trademark playoff intensity so maybe a little more Trevor Booker is exactly what they need. —A. Rubin
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