Playoffs D.C. Council Game 4: Wizards 92 vs Pacers 95: Indiana’s Big Fish Sends Wiz Kids Reeling | Truth About It.net

Playoffs D.C. Council Game 4: Wizards 92 vs Pacers 95: Indiana’s Big Fish Sends Wiz Kids Reeling

By
Updated: May 12, 2014

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. 4: Wizards vs Pacers; contributors: Conor Dirks, Adam McGinnis from the Verizon Center and Sean Fagan from Brooklyn.

Washington Wizards 92 vs Indiana Pacers 95
[box score]


Jump to Council Player Ratings


 

 Sad Panda.

20140511-sad-big-panda-bradley-beal

 

NUMBERS.

{via ESPN Stats & Info}

#1. Paul George scored 26 points on 8-for-13 shooting when guarded by Trevor Ariza in Game 4. In Games 1-3, George scored 25 total points on 8-for-23 shooting when guarded by Ariza.

As the Washington Post has observed: George shot 36.4 percent against the Wizards in the regular season and averaged just 16.7 points – five below his season average.

#2. During “clutch time” (within the last five minutes of the game with the score within five points), the Wizards have been outscored by 11 points over the series versus Indiana. During 10 minutes of clutch time, Washington is 3-for-16 from the field with 13 points and four turnovers. In Game 4, the Wizards were 1-for-7 with three turnovers during clutch time.

 

DC Council Key Legislature

When Orpheus traveled to retrieve his newlywed and newly dead bride, Eurydice, from the underworld, there was no precedent, and therefore, no expectation, that he would succeed. But talent can corrupt the status quo, and when that sad man played his lyre, and Hades himself was brought to tears for the first time, a deal was struck. If Orpheus could walk all the way back to the world of the living without looking back to check if Eurydice was walking behind him, then his wife would no longer be dead.

As they myth intuits, it’s hard not to look back, it’s hard to believe something is there if you can no longer see it, especially when it seems too good to be true.

When the Wizards won Game 1, the path was laid out in front of them. Here was this chance, this unexpected and unprecedented bargain: win three more games without reverting to the Wizards of the regular season, and all of the inconsistency of the 44-38 team that entered the playoffs will be forgotten. The end could be canceled, life extended.

When the Wizards lost to the Charlotte Bobcats late in the season and slipped to the seventh seed, it was easy to nod, and roll your eyes, and mentally move on to next season. A few lucky breaks later (a Charlotte loss and the resting Nets), and the nymphs and gods were urging the Wizards to go down to the playoff underworld and make their case. Against the Bulls, Washington climbed the soul-lined hill of Hades confidently, desperately, one step at a time.

Doubt kills; or, rather, it returns something once dead back to the grave. Down 2-1 to Indiana, and coming off a doubt-sowing 63-point performance in Game 3, Washington’s Orphic moment came with seven minutes left in Game 4. After two Andre Miller free throws, the home team found themselves up nine points. A string of misses by Beal and Harrington let Indiana creep back within three, and Randy Wittman reinserted John Wall, previously this team’s “sure thing.” Wall immediately drilled a 3-pointer, and there were exhalations. The light of the overworld crept into the crowd’s field of vision. Just a few more steps… A win, and then victory in a three-game series, and the Wizards could be one of the NBA’s final four.

After a string of missed opportunities (a Gooden turnover, an ill-advised Gooden 3-pointer, and hard takes by Wall and Nene neutralized by the Pacers interior defense), it seemed like the Wizards weren’t sure anything that had happened was real. With 47 seconds remaining and his team down three, Wall found himself surprisingly, incredibly open behind the arc. John, driving with one headlight all game due to an injured eyeball, looked back down the road to Hades. Eurydice was there, it was all real. Hesitating, he paused before passing up the wide open 3-pointer, and sending it along to a less-open-but-still-very-open Beal. The shot missed. The moment was gone; the terms of the deal struck with the basketball devil were violated. The final half-minute of the game provided a few more chances for heroism, but none were more immediate than that open opportunity.

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)

 


 

DC Council Chair

The Big Panda was much more judicious in picking his spots to fire away than he was on Friday night, calm and cool in every situation thrown his way. He attacked more, with almost half of his attempts coming in the paint, which led to six free throw attempts. And when the Pacers D came at him hard on pick-and-roll situations, he usually made the correct read and chipped in five assists. At one point, he even successfully got Gooden to chill out from celebrating to focus on defense. There is leadership and development going in front us that is a joy to witness from a second-year player. There are your positive pixels in this miserable defeat.

During a night that contained so much good (the bench, numerous crazy highlights, an amazing home crowd of engaged fans), it is the few misses from Beal that stick out more than his seven made shots. With the Wizards up nine with 6:35 left in the fourth quarter, Beal cut to the hoop and Miller found him with a laser pass, but Beal missed the bunny. From that moment, the Pacers closed out the game on a 19-7 run. After a wild scramble in the final seconds, Stephenson threw it right to Beal under the Wizards hoop. Bradley got hit on his attempt at the rim, yet he missed a potential game tying and-1 opportunity that would have been the biggest play of his career. He then missed the second of the two free throws. When the final buzzer sounded, a shell shocked Bradley slowly left the court, with Sam Cassell consoling him.

This one hurt our young Bao Bao. Luckily, he has another shot on Tuesday.

—Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)

 


 

DC Council Vetoed Participation

The return of the regular season Wizards.

Throwing out Game 3′s performance as a horrible aberration of poor shooting, one had to feel fairly good about the Wizards’ chances heading into a dreaded “must win” (they are all must wins) Game 4 at home in the Phone Booth. The Wizards still had more shooting talent than the Pacers, they were most likely fairly angry at themselves and the national media for having put forth two straight ‘immature’ performances, and they probably hadn’t slept with one another’s wives during the off day. It certainly wasn’t an ideal situation to be down 2-1 with the Pacers regaining some of their regular season swagger and having managed to awaken the inert corpse of Roy Hibbert, but if the Wizards managed to stick to the formula used against the Bulls and in Game 1 of this series, then the outcome would likely be in their favor.

Then the regular season Wizards made an unwelcome reappearance in the second half.

Bearing all the wretched markings of a December game against the Bucks, the Wizards put their fans through a very serious case of PTSD. To note:

  1. Cough up lead in third quarter.
  2. Let opposing team’s superstar get hot and stay hot.
  3. Pull out some emergency triage tactics by inserting the bench for long periods.
  4. Fall completely apart during the waning moments of the fourth quarter.

Point four bears more examination, because it marked everything that we as a collective unit had forgotten the Wizards were capable of ‘achieving’ given enough time and room to break hearts and minds. For the last six minutes of the fourth quarter in Game 4, the Wizards basically stopped running plays. They would race up to halfcourt, then slow down to a crawl and execute something that was supposed to resemble an offense. Two possessions resulted in Al Harrington and Drew Gooden air-balled 3s—two guys who should never be taking long shots with the shot clock winding down. Having gotten into the bonus early in the quarter, the Wizards kept bombing away from long distance or flat-out refusing to take open looks (i.e., John Wall). Like an absinthe-coated horror dream, the nightmare was complete when the Wizards were unable to even run their final play to try and tie the game, losing the ball on the inbounds and looking like Lucy had once again pulled the football out from their feet. Blame poor coaching, blame nerves, but this was not the same Wizards team that had dominated the Bulls and looked dangerous with Nene successfully nursed back to health. Instead, it eerily resembled a team that many believed had been killed and buried in the doldrums of February.

—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)

 


 

DC Council Top Aide

Drew Gooden received not one but two standing ovations for his hustle and overall positive performance. Washington’s reserves fed off his energy, as did the raucous Phone Booth crowd. Drew, whose defensive struggles are well documented, took two huge charges on David West and he swatted away three shots. Even more surprisingly than his tough D was Drizzle flying down the lane early in the fourth for a two-handed slam, which gave the Wiz a 78-74 advantage. Gooden did fumble away a late pass on a dish from Wall that would have been a major bucket—he was wide-open under the rim with a chance to increase the lead to six.

Drizzle has shown enough during his time in Washington that, if he doesn’t return as a Wizard, he’ll likely get another chance with an NBA team somwhere.

—Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis)

 


 

DC Council Session

That Session Was … Baffling

I’m at a loss to explain what has happened to the Wizards over the past few games (poor shooting, horrible execution, too much national media). And to avoid denigrating the accomplishments of the Pacers (who were not great, they were just fine), one has to assume that this reversion to their primordial selves has a large psychological component that goes beyond the simple X’s and O’s of basketball. The Pacers’ late-season swoon had as much to do with the ten tons of extracurriculars that went down surrounding the team as it did Frank Vogel’s unwillingness to chance one facet of his game plan. The Wizards for the past few games have moved so far away from what has made them successful that one has to hope that this isn’t some tactical coaching noise brought about by Randy Wittman, but rather some type of psychological fugue state brought about by emotion and success.

To play armchair psychologist for just a moment, the Wizards have stopped looking at the trees and took a helicopter to get a nice panoply of the forest. The entire ‘one game at a time’ amnesia that the Wizards had used to great success to get over .500, claim their first playoff spot in eight years, and win their opening series against the Bulls seems to have disappeared, as the Wizards appear to spend a lot of time thinking while they are on the court and less time simply executing plays that they know work. You can literally hear the gears grinding in the minds of the players as Wall brings the ball up court and players appear to be locked in a vat of molasses, always a second late to rotate or set a pick for their teammate.

The good news is that the Wizards now have to revert to the amnesiatic state, because their are no further tomorrows if they do not win Game 5. They need to play with the same reckless joy that brought them success and stop over-thinking the problem in front of them. Because if the Wizards go down on Tuesday night, it would be a better balm for everyone if they went down playing “their way,” bombing corner 3s and racing up and down the court while dictating pace. To lose another game in which they over-complicate the game, and play unappealing, unaesthetic basketball would be a sour note to end the year on. Forget the chess for one more game and get back to playing checkers.

—Sean Fagan (@McCarrick)

 


 

DC Council Mayor

[The Lost #WittmanFace]

[The Lost #WittmanFace]

Frank Vogel credited Randy Wittman for what he considered a smart adjustment: using Al Harrington and Drew Gooden instead of the more traditional lineups. But what is interesting is that Harrington’s scoring didn’t spring forth from his ability to shoot from the outside. All four of Harrington’s makes came from shots in, or just outside, the paint.

Still, Vogel is correct to credit Wittman with the adjustment, which was temporarily effective. What would have been more impressive, however, is a game plan that found a way to put Washington’s best players in a position to succeed. For the second straight game, Marcin Gortat’s role was reduced; and in Game 4, it was almost erased. Both Gooden and Harrington played more minutes that Gortat.

Something doesn’t sit well with me when Gortat, Washington’s most important player (by the numbers), sits the entirety of the fourth quarter of the team’s most important game of the season. Maybe that’s a knee jerk reaction. Or maybe it’s because both Gooden and Harrington tried, and failed, to make plays in the final minutes.

Wittman is going to take his lumps for a variety of reasons (a blown 19-point lead, some questionable out-of-timeout plays), but when given the opportunity to explain what went wrong with 10 seconds remaining on a botched inbounds play, the coach rolled his eyes, and rolled over on a question by TAI’s Adam McGinnis before looking away with a constructive “next question.”

What Wittman was absolutely right about, however, was that “inexperience” is not why the Wizards lost this game. When three players closer to 40 than 30 (Miller, Gooden, Harrington) play significant fourth-quarter minutes, and when the only “inexperienced” players are Wall and Beal (who was our game MVP), that theme just reeks of a stale, but ultimately digestible, narrative for those who may have a few minutes to read about the Wizards while sitting on the john. As Wittman said, “that’s just an excuse.”

—Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks)


 

DC Council Players

John Wall

2.5 out of 5 stars

32 mins | minus-21 | 12 pts | 4-11 FGs | 1-3 3Ps | 3-4 FTs | 1 reb | 7 asts | 1 stl | 5 TOs

When the Game Changer ended the first half with an explosive behind-the-back transition finish, the shine on John Wall was looking all polished up. The Wiz were rolling, up 17, appearing to have things under control and being able to tie the series up at two games apiece. Any potential criticism for his uneven play this series would be shelved. Instead, the Wizards collapsed and now Wall faces the brunt of “inexperienced” labels lobbed his way by the national media.

The most glaring, specific critique was that with the Wizards down three in the final minute, Wall passed up an open 3-pointer and instead gave it to Beal, who then misfired on a semi-contested 3. The entire Verizon Center crowd was screaming for Wall to shoot it. (Somewhat different situation: Wall got a bunch of heat for shooting a late 3 in Game 2.)

The weird part is that Wall had just made his previous 3-point attempt, which ended up being Washington’s only field goal in the final 7:50 of the game. Charles Barkley made that exact observation during TNT’s postgame highlight show. My main disappointment with Wall was that Ariza and Beal had hot hands, but both of them only combined for four 3-point attempts in the second half.

Wall got hosed on a late call that might have changed the outcome of the game, but his poor third quarter (zero points, two assists, two turnovers) was a main reason why the Pacers clawed back into the game after the Wizards dominated the first half. Wall’s offensive confidence still seems off, and time is about up for him to regain it. —A. McGinnis

Bradley Beal

4 out of 5 stars

42 min | plus -9 | 20 pts | 7-14 FGs | 2-4 3Ps | 4-6 FTs | 5 rebs | 5 asts | 3 stls | 1 TO

Perhaps the last amnesiac amongst a group of cognitive over-thinkers, Beal put his Game 3 performance in the rear view window and had the most effective game of any Wizards starter. Beal kept the Wizards afloat as the lone starter playing with the AARP squad during the early fourth quarter, and it was his ability to facilitate and make plays that jump-started the Wizards on a 9-0 run to pull out in front of the Pacers. Alas, Beal’s effectiveness was stifled upon the reinsertion of most of the starting unit, who were unable to get Beal the ball when the team needed his shooting to maintain their slim advantage. The curse of the shooter is how much he relies upon his teammates to set up the proper conditions, and the weather became rather rough as the fourth quarter ground on to its anti-climatic conclusion. S. Fagan

Trevor Ariza

2.5 out of 5 stars

33 min | minus-22 | 16 pts | 6-11 FGs | 2-4 3Ps | 2-2 FTs | 9 rebs | 3 stl | 3 TOs | 5 PFs

Ariza’s performance will be marred somewhat by the turnover on Washington’s final play: an inbounds pass thrown by Ariza which he described after the game as “just a bad pass.” It’s noble of Ariza to fall on the sword, but somewhat unnecessary. The clock was as close to zero as it was going to get, and no Wizard had adequately shown in order to receive a clean pass.

Ariza ended the game with 16 points, but only six points came after the first quarter. With Sir Hookah’s offense extinguished and Paul George scoring a career-high 39 playoff points, Ariza’s fine box score total doesn’t encapsulate how disappointing he was, along with most of Washington’s starters, in the second half.

The Wizards aren’t comfortable (for good reason) letting Ariza handle the ball, and so he’s ultimately at the mercy of his teammates, especially Wall, when it comes to getting his looks. They just didn’t come in the second half.

After the game, a dejected Ariza tried to stay positive like Shelvin Mack, and mentioned that there is still at least one more game to play: “I wish we could go again right now.” —C. Dirks

Nene

2 out of 5 stars

25 min | minus -7 | 10 pts | 5-14 FGs | 0-0 FTs | 3 rebs | 3 asts | 2 blks

Perhaps pondering the nature of the universe and his relationship to the Lord can explain Nene’s disappearance over the past few games. Or it might be due to the hard-bodying of Roy Hibbert and David West. However, the playmaking ability of Nene has been rendered entirely ineffective against the Pacers. Nene will receive the ball at the free throw line, swing it it one hand like a roadside windmill, and vainly look for a teammate to make a cut to the basket or be free for an open look. Neither those cuts or looks are being allowed by the Pacers, so poor Nene looks like a very large mime on the court, playacting the role of a professional basketball center. Nene simply does not have enough simpatico with the AARP squad for his sly tricks to work, and as long as his BFF Marcin Gortat remains stapled to the bench, Nene is left with too many duties on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. —S. Fagan

Marcin Gortat

1 out of 5 stars

21 mins | minus-11 | 2 pts | 1-3 FGs | 0-0 FTs | 3 rebs | 1 ast | 1 stl | 1 blk | 3 PFs

Wall is going to get a bunch of heat for his streaky play, but the dismal showing of the Wizards starting bigs over the weekend should be prominently featured. After a 21-point podium game in Indiana, Gortat combined for six points in these last (and perhaps only) two home outings. Gortat did a decent job of keeping Hibbert away from the hoop in post position in Game 4. However, he still was a non-factor on both ends. Wittman decided to roll with the hot hands of Harrington and Gooden, so the Polish machine sat out both the second and fourth quarters. A. McGinnis

Drew Gooden

3 out of 5 stars

27 min | plus-5 | 10 pts | 5-10 FGs | 0-1 3P | 4 rebs | 3 blks | 2 asts | 2 TOs

The midrange god. Gooden played quite well in Game 4. He hit his open shots, played good defense (especially at the rim, where he held the Pacers to 37.5% on shots he defended), and got the crowd into the game on several occasions by imploring the masses to applaud after big baskets. The so-called AARP unit, fueled by prune juice from Whole Foods, flat outplayed the Pacers second unit.

But Gooden wasn’t totally convinced that the style of the second unit was sustainable. After the game, when asked whether Andre Miller’s slower, more deliberate style of play was a better fit against the Pacers, Gooden was emphatic in saying the Wizards “didn’t want to play in the halfcourt with the Pacers.” Maybe that’s just a cagey veteran being careful not to insult his star point guard, but I think there’s truth to it. While the Wizards second unit (Gooden, Harrington, Miller, Webster, and Beal) had success against the Pacers bench, the key to beating the Pacers is scoring in transition. In the first half, the Wizards had 18 fast break points. In the second half, when they collapsed: none. In that awful Game 3, the Wizards had one total. —C. Dirks

Martell Webster

2.5 out of 5 stars

21 mins | plus-7 | 4 pts | 2-3 FGs | 0-1 3Ps | 2 rebs | 1 blk

Martell Webster is the x-factor that never was. Each game, Washington’s presumptive 6th man feels more like their 8th. It’s a mystery that will carry over in the offseason, as the Wizards will wonder what Martell could do with more minutes, and more time with John Wall.

In the final minute, when Washington desperately needed 3-point shooting, Webster wasn’t even on the floor.

If this sounds negative, it shouldn’t, at least not necessarily. Webster played a decent game, and wholly “within himself,” skying for an alley-oop from Andre Miller, and hitting a jumper in the lane. Three total shots, though, and only one 3-point attempt (which missed), runs counter to what the Wizards need from Webster. This team is dangerous when Beal, Ariza, and Webster are firing. Remove one, and the Wizards are just another team that needs another shooter. —C. Dirks

Al Harrington

3 out of 5 stars

23 mins | plus -8 | 11 pts | 4-7 FGs | 0-2 3Ps | 6 rebs | 3 stls | 4 PFs

Sure, it was great to see Uncle Al pull out one last valiant effort and go down firing, but I have to question giving so much time to a player who has logged barely a minute during these playoffs. Harrington rebounded effectively, took the ball to the basket, and even dropped a big elbow on Paul George, but one can’t help but question Wittman’s decision to leave Harrington in the game after the Pacers began yet another furious comeback. Uncle Al in small doses is a wonderful tonic for energy and offensive cohesion, but larger doses only lead to indigestion and watching a 16-year vet slowly lose foot speed and defensive positioning the minutes pile up. —S. Fagan

Andre Miller

4 out of 5 stars

6 mins | even-0 | 2 pts | 1-3 FGs | 0-0 FTs | 0 reb | 0 ast | 2 TOs

As I was walking back to the press area through a stunned Wiz crowd, a woman with an Andre Miller shirt, who appeared to be one of his family members, was approached by a lady, who posed this question: “Why did they take Andre out? He was doing so good.”

She kinda has a point because Miller was exceptional and played arguably his best game of the playoffs. Harrington and Gooden were providing the energy for the AARP unit, but the Professor was stirring the drink with alley oop-passes, finding Beal on 3s, displaying back-down post plays, and drawing fouls on herky-jerky moves. He went between the legs on a move that had the whole Verizon Center buzzing, even though his shot attempt came up short. His plus/minus rating blows away everyone of his teammates by double digits. There was even an “An-dre Mill-er” chant that broke out when he was shooting free throws. When was the last time that took place?

Wittman was asked about why he decided to go with Wall down the stretch instead of Miller, and his answer was that John was their closer. Maybe on Sunday night, it should have been ‘Dre. —A. McGinnis

 


 

Game Vines.

 

Sad Hookah.

[via @ConorDDirks]

[via @ConorDDirks]

 

The Nene Report.