Opening Statements: Wizards vs Pacers, Playoff Game 3–Pixels & Emails from the Abyss | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Pacers, Playoff Game 3–Pixels & Emails from the Abyss

Updated: May 9, 2014

Washington Wizards at Indiana Pacers - Nov. 10, 2012


Intro? These emails need no intro, which also means that where we’re going, we don’t need roads. I think.

Travel down the pixel lane of communication with Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis) and me (@Truth_About_It), with a special appearance from Pacers bro, Jon R. LaFollette (@JonFilet). Start it.


Teams: Wizards vs. Pacers
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Television: ESPN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500
Spread: Wizards favored by 4.5 points.

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May 8, 7:47 pm

Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis):

What up, Kyle? It is your favorite online rabble-rouser and current Wizards fan boy. I am glad that on the cusp of two of the most significant home games in the John Wall era we get to exchange our thoughts. Because if there is anyone that can appreciate what it has been like going from the blogger bottom (covering March Wizards vs. Bucks games or writing about ‘Cats vs. Wiz games) to three wins away from being in the NBA’s Final 4, it is us two.

Do you even remember writing this live game Wiz recap that had to be miserable to endure?

We discussed this a tad in our video chat, but just how surreal has this whole ride been for you? I got friends of mine that have never shown any interest in the Wizards (other than to mock their irrelevance) now asking me about the team. My father who grew up a Bullets fan—even weirder since he is from Iowa—wrote off the team so long ago that we don’t even bring it up in our sports chats. Last week, he told me that he watched them beat Chicago. What type of new personal experiences have you encountered? You are Mr. Truth About It.

Another example, having one of your articles on the Wizards get teased on the cover of the Washington City Paper made me surprisingly super excited. I know, showing passion and emotion is a first for me!



May 8, 9:02 pm

Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It):

It still feels a little hard to ingest. I’m eating the soup. I know it’s good. But it’s hard to fully take in the scenery, because you’re concentrating on that bowl. Who knew the Wizards were in a nice room with a view?

What I do know: Much less the warm weather, it’s odd seeing the Wizards be the only NBA game on TV with win-or-go home repercussions, but it’s great seeing the Wiz Kids we know—a few of them: Wall, Beal and Booker—grow up. Out of all the rookies, recycled veterans, and D-Leaguers, could it all be worth it with Wall and Beal till 2020 (or so and beyond)? I would have to say yes.

But we also must realize: things can change very quickly. Seven years is a long time ago but it’s also not. On February 22, 2007, the Wizards were fresh off Eddie Jordan coaching the 2007 All-Star team and a whole 10 games above .500 (31-21. They finished the year 10-20, both Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas got hurt and the Wizards were swept by LeBron and the Cavs. You know the rest of the story: one more superfluous playoff appearance and the third-most losses in the NBA from the following season through last season.

And, boy, was covering some of those bad games miserable—especially when fans of a bastardly Knicks team used to infiltrate the Verizon Center. But while an appearance in the second round is nice, how can that simply be accepted as the greatest thing since cheese-baked croutons in the soup (a Maryland crab and corn bisque, perhaps)? Or rather, the “Mission Accomplished” banner on the U.S.S. Grunfeld.

While a taste will keep you from getting the shakes, let’s see the Wizards impress us a little more first. Thus, let’s get to the matter at hand, the transition to Game 3 in D.C.


May 8, 10:47 pm

Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis):

Kyle, you actually want to see how this playoff run plays out before demanding mea culpas from long-time franchise critics and throwing yourself to the mercy of Emperor Grunfeld? How novel and logical of you….

The Wizards lost a winnable game on Wednesday night and blew a golden opportunity to land a major blow on the chin of these Pacers. On the bright side, Washington didn’t play that well and still had a chance to steal one. Conversely, the winning playoff formula in their four previous playoff road victories—race to an early lead, seal the game with smothering fourth-quarter defense—did not pay off. Indiana punched Washington from the jump and made the winning plays on both ends late to deservedly tie up the series.

Our national sports media nightmare was finally over because Hibbert looked like a decent basketballer, but I am little fed up with the storyline. Hibbert didn’t die, and he made $14 million this season. It is a bizarre situation for him to stink so much without an injury, but he is a grown-ass man who doesn’t deserve all this attention and pity. Hibbert might have scored a bunch, yet it never felt like he dominated the game and most of his buckets felt awkward. Adam Rubin made the point in the game recap that his production was often at the expense of other teammates.

After Mike Dunleavy’s 35-point game, many said there was no way he would do that again. Those observers were correct. Can the same be said for the Roy Hibbert’s 28-point game?

Last December, Coach Wittman dropped an “analytical bullshit,” and he was more derisive when you asked him about his team choices on mid-range shots.

“You know what? Those numbers you can stick… Alright? You know, all you analytical people that take that… You take good shots, that’s the most important thing.”

Using Wittman’s importance logic, were those 3-pointers chucked by Wall and Beal at end of game, “good shots?” In his post game press conference, Randy refused to question those decisions or criticize his players. Do you think he talked to them about those shots? Or just let them slide on it?

The Wizards had one fast break point in Game 1—a free throw resulted from Drew Gooden cherry picking. Wittman was asked about this low output by the Washington Post‘s Michael Lee. His answer was to question who keeps track of those type of stats and said he was more worried about “pace.” So break out that analytical manure shovel you carry on the S4 Bus down 16th street in D.C. and heap some math this way on Washington’s pace in their defeat. How is their pace throughout the playoffs and season? Are these low fast break chances on Washington or just good defense by Indiana?


May 9, 12:15 am

Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It):

OK, let’s tackle some observations in two parts:

#1: The Roy Report:

Hibbert wasn’t just bad in Game 1, he’s been bad for a while. And when the All-Star center on the team expected to contend with the Heat suddenly turns it around, and the Pacers win … well, that’s pixel-worthy. I mean, the narrative certainly indexed all the Photoshops making fun of Hibbert, and Gilbert Arenas. But that Pacers winning part was the key. If they lose, the greater concern for the team over individual performance surfaces to become the narrative. Otherwise: Roy Hibbert is no Mike Dunleavy. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.

#2: #MathBasketball (in a world that unavoidably contains math):

I think Wittman’s logic is that good shots are hard to come by, and good shots means open, feet set, straight up-and-down, etc. So if a good shot is available—because basketball is a fast game—you take that opportunity without thinking twice and you take it with confidence, which is unquantifiable. (That said an offensive system should be built to put players in efficient situations to take advantage of precious possessions.)

Otherwise, Wittman wasn’t a fan of those late shots in Game 2. His words from practice on Thursday:

“There was a couple instances there where we were down three, with 1:24 that we played that possession like there was 10 seconds left. There’s a lot of possessions left when there’s a minute-twenty-four to go.”

Wall admitted that he was frustrated with the first 3 he took after a long offensive rebound and 2:25 left, but said that he was OK with the second one that he took stepping into the shot off a pass in transition. I still say he was at a bad angle. Wittman said he wanted his guys to be more aggressive and that the shots felt like desperation; I have a feeling he was talking about all of them.

But the math? Game 2 had 13 less possessions than Game 1. What doesn’t lie more than numbers: film. In sessions, the Wizards certainly saw Roy Hibbert beat their bigs down the floor a couple times, which perhaps means that the Wiz need to pick up the pace on defense. So that’s one thing they have to do on Friday.

But to get more on all this from a Pacers perspective, I emailed a couple questions earlier to Jon R. LaFollette (@JonFilet), co-host of the Miller Time Podcast (@MillerTimePod). His responses:


May 8, 7:29 pm


1) The Pacers ran just one post-up play in Game 1 but 16 in Game 2 (nine to Hibbert). Past just ‘feeding Roy his fish’ what was behind such a drastic change?

There are two reasons the Pacers relied so heavily on Hibbert in Game 2. The first is because the Wizards were helpless to stop him. The Big Dawg was 10-of-13 from the field, showed poise and patience in the paint, and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the line. Why should Frank Vogel shy away from a good thing? The second—and slightly concerning reason—was Indy’s inability to hit jump shots. In Game 2, Paul George, David West and Lance Stephenson combined to shoot 11-for-33 from the floor and were 9-for-25 on uncontested shots, per SportVu data. If the jumper is not falling, keep feeding the resurgent big man.

2) Even with Hibbert’s explosion in mere presence, amongst other things, the Game 2 still could have gone either way. So what adjustments did you see that Indy needs to make going into Game 3?

It’s the rebounding, stupid! In the previous two games, Washington has beat the Pacers on the glass 96-74 and have hauled in 64 percent of their rebounding opportunities. For comparison, Indy has nabbed a mundane 51 percent of their chances on the boards. In a series with two defensive-minded squads, quality possessions will come at a premium. The Pacers will need as many as possible to get a win in Hibbert’s backyard—especially if Paul George takes another trip to Brick City.


Which brings me around to this… If ‘the sports’ are all about living in the moment, playing like there’s no tomorrow, playing like there’s no next hour, dancing like no one is watching you, taking it one game at a time, winning or going home, taking three sheets to the wind, and throwing your passion into it like a swashbuckling pirate-sailor swinging down a rope from the Ernie Grunfeld crow’s nest with sword in mouth, are we now to believe that Hibbert’s demons have been exorcised, as Jesus also went on fishing trips, while David Falk lurks playing Devil’s Advocate to Roy’s sad Keanu Reeves?

Also: place Vegas odds on your Wizards Game 3 ‘X-factor’: Trevor Booker, Martell Webster, Drew Gooden, Otto Porter, Kevin Seraphin.


May 9, 11:39 am

Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis):

Plus-1 on sad Keanu Reeves, which makes me think of Special Agent Johnny Utah and bank robbing surfer bro Bodhi of the movie “Point Break.” (A sequel is a bad idea, BTW.)

Let Bodhi pontificate his approach to exerting your will  in life:

It’s basic dog psychology. If you scare them and get them peeing down their leg, they submit. But if you project weakness, that promotes violence, and that’s how people get hurt.

Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true.

No demons have been exorcised just yet for Indiana and all it’ll takes is a dispirited first half of basketball by the Pacers tonight to bring all those fears back that have haunted them since their weaknesses began to be put on display for the world.

Wednesday was arguably Washington’s worst performance of their seven playoff games and they are one wild 3 from tying it up with a minute left.

john wall dunkfalk3

David “Gollum” Falk has no powers in the Verizon Center and only kissing Georgetown Coach John Thompson III’s precious ring makes him relevant in the NBA anymore. (My contempt for the agent stems from his grave dancing of Abe Pollin and ripping John Wall, Nene, Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor et al in a bizarre (drunken?) rant to, of course, Mike Wise, “Mr. Shit Starter.”)

X-factor Odds.

    • Even Money: Booker is the one who can provide needed toughness against the Pacers bigs and he is due for a pivotal showing. Although Book might upset Gortat with his constant need to flex.
    • 5 to 1: Gooden is back home with his Whole Food Crew in Maryland (What up, White Flint!), pounding shots of wheat grass and finding serenity with Bikram yoga. I expect him to be comfortable.
    • 10 to 1: Martell Webster showed flashes in Game 2 that he might catch fire and be less emo, but alas, it was not meant to be. We are destined for a 4-point play by the Seattle native and he will likely get one this weekend in the Phone Booth. His chiding of Gortat on Instagram was funny.
    • 50 to 1: There is a better chance of President Kevin Seraphin deleting his snapchat off his iPhone than him actually making an impact in a game. On the positive pixel side, Seraphin has replaced his missing snake, “Snakey,” with a new pet reptile. You recently got this quote from Kevin: “It’s tough to find a snake when it gets lost. I got lucky, I lost him once and I find him back, but I want a bigger one anyway.”
    • Unknown to 1: Otto Porter…Who is that?

I am still a firm believer that Washington has more weapons, can win with multiple styles, and is playing a better brand of basketball than Indiana right now. We are about to find out if they can prove all that on the court. Do you agree with those assessments?

Two Sunday’s ago, Washington handled adversity by working Chicago in front of a lively home crowd in a Game 4 victory. I am interested to see how this team fares after their first setback of this series. It felt Nene’s ejection took the sails out of the arena in Game 3, otherwise they may have swept the Bulls.

What kind of environment do you expect tonight? How do you see this game playing out in terms of strategy adjustments by both coaching staffs?


May 9, 1:09 pm

Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It):

I agree with you. Washington, at least in the starting lineup, has too many weapons for Indiana to completely address. That is, if the Wiz Kids move the ball like they should, which I feel they understand at this point. You just wonder if they know to value every single possession in the playoffs yet. As hard as Wall and Beal’s jacks at the end of Game 2 were to swallow, perhaps it means that both, especially Wall, know much better now. The kids must grow up a bit and learn to live on their own at the free throw line.

Defensively, I think the good news is that the Wizards don’t have to adjust too much “strategy” when it comes to guarding Hibbert. At least I don’t think. Certainly there are nuances of which I am not aware. But you still play him straight up, and stepping up the defense otherwise seems elementary: don’t let Hibbert beat you down the court, as mentioned; make him catch the ball farther from the hoop; don’t let perimeter players have such an easy time passing the ball into Hibbert.

As far as Indiana’s strategy? If their best idea is to keep feeding Hibbert, then fine. Washington just better counter with ways to get Roy operating farther from the basket on defense as well as offense.

And now, let’s hear the always quotable Marcin Gortat give a non-quote about Roy Hibbert in one 25-second video, and him on how the Wizards can keep the Pacers from getting post-up looks in a 30-second video:



Now to pressing affairs: Will fans even show up in the Phone Booth on time, much less early, and what’s your score prediction for this evening, along with something crazy-unexpected that could happen?

May 9, 2:05 pm

Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis):

For the first playoff home debut against the Bulls, the fans were not let into the building until an hour before the 8 p.m. start. Gortat wants the place full and loud 30 minutes before the game.

This might be logistically impossible with another sold-out arena not being let in until 7 p.m. again for a 8 p.m. tip. I still expect it to be raucous tonight. The last Wiz moment inside the Phone Booth was was “Free Nene” chants, and there should be a smooth energy transition into this evening. The players will feed off the hyped atmosphere and they will have less nerves than exactly two weeks ago versus the Bulls.

My random prediction is something food- or drink-related will go down. Leonsis blogged about how great Indiana’s grub was, and he photobombed a live report by Comcast’s Chris Miller with, “I heard pizza.” Beal’s “Big Panda” and “Bao Bao” nicknames have gone mainstream and this is all started because Wall says Beal always cleans his plate at every meal. On Comcast’s last pre-game show, Coach Wittman revealed that he avoids meals before games, but his favorite meal afterward is meatloaf.  The bar Passenger in D.C. named cocktails after Wiz players.

Be on the lookout for something strange in this category to go down, other than me doing shots of whiskey at Iron Horse.

In my deep dive into the murky waters known as the TAI archives, I discovered the first Wizards-related post that you ever wrote was a live blog recap of a 2007 season opener on Halloween between the Pacers and Wizards. Ain’t that something?


Anyway, the Wizards roll big tonight, as the Phone Booth will turn into a place from outer space with Hibbert returning to his weirdly poor alien form. Washington snatches back the momentum of this series. Bookmark It.

Prediction time, Mr. Wedding Planner. Who you got and why?


May 9, 2:44 pm

Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It):

It means, elder Bao Bao McGinnis, that unlike that night back in 2007 via a Gilbert Arenas buzzer-beating shot to send the game into overtime (where the Wizards lost) and my relatively incoherent babble, these Wizards of Washington will win these evening, 97-89, and we can start this whole thing all over again with Game 4. Leggo…



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Adam McGinnis
Reporter / Writer / Media at TAI
Adam is a bro from the Midwest who's been bopping around the District of Columbia for years. He's down with a range of sports, etc. and has covered the Washington Wizards for TAI since 2010.