Opening Statements: Wizards vs Pacers, Playoff Game 4–Pixels & Emails from the Abyss | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Pacers, Playoff Game 4–Pixels & Emails from the Abyss

Updated: May 11, 2014

Washington Wizards at Indiana Pacers - Nov. 10, 2012


To get ready for a big Game 4, TAI’s Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20) and John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend) exchanged modernized electronic mail about the state of the Washington Wizards and how they can leave the District with the series with the Indiana Pacers tied at 2-2. Start it.


Teams: Wizards vs. Pacers
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Television: TNT
Radio: WFED-AM 1500
Spread: Wizards favored by 4 points; Over/Under: 179.5

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May 10, 6:22 p.m.

John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend):

Will your son, Young Nyles, have second thoughts about not going to Sunday’s game? Will he even bother to stay awake to catch Wiz vs. Pacers, Chapter IV from home?


May 10, 8:44 pm

Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20):

Well, young Nyles’ first game will have to come another time, since not even the mighty NBA playoffs can trump Mother’s Day. And given the snoozer of a game the Pacers and Wizards produced on Friday night, I highly doubt I could sell that to my 2-year-old as something exciting.

I said prior to Game 3 that it was more of a must win for the Wizards than it was for the Pacers. Indiana had been on the brink of a colossal collapse since Game 1 of the Atlanta series, yet they were tied with the Wizards after Game 2 and are now in the driver’s seat after Game 3. The Wizards’ closest brush with adversity was the “Mike Dunleavy game,” and their response to that was to win the next two games to close out the Bulls. After the loss in Game 2, John Wall took the blame instead of giving the Pacers credit for winning.

Now the Wizards are down in the series with weakened confidence and an even weaker offense. How they respond will be a referendum on the ability of Wall and Randy Wittman to lead. What do you think?

Also, what is your take on the boos that rained down in the Verizon Center late in the fourth quarter. Were they justified, or was it just spoiled behavior from newly-spoiled fans?


May 10, 9:36 pm

John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend):

You also said, at halftime of Friday night’s game, that you had a bad feeling about the rest of the contest. And, shit, were you right… Yuck.

I thought the stretch of games the Wizards played without Nene said a lot about what Witt could get out of his players. They won—and kept winning more than many, including yours truly, thought they would. Chalk that success up to a kindergarten schedule?

Wittman and Wall will have to bring their A games on Sunday. Another loss and this series is O-V-E-R. The big issue the Wiz have, and have had this season, is shot selection. Poor shot selection to be specific (midrange and more midrange J’s), and in many ways Witt is to blame. Analytical B.S.? Uhh… OK, boss.

While I was at Game 3, I left just after halftime, but not for basketball reasons. So, didn’t hear the boos, but … worst scoring performance in franchise history? Yeah, deserved.

I’ve seen college hoops teams, and high school FOOTBALL teams, put up more points. Plus, later that night, the Thunder put up 63 by halftime. Embarrassing.



VIDEO: John Wall on Fans Booing in Game 3.


May 10, 9:55 pm

Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20):

The shot selection was indeed terrible. When the Wizards move the ball around the perimeter and make the extra pass to find the open man, the result is often open layups and easy baskets. But instead of sticking with that winning formula, they seemed content to take jumper after jumper against Indiana, which feeds right into what the Pacers want. Atlanta’s Jeff Teague almost singlehandedly beat Indiana with penetration, floaters, and kick outs to shooters. Wall and the Wizards can do the same but they’ve gotten away from that.

I don’t think the fans should have booed, since half of them didn’t jump on the Wizards bandwagon until the Chicago series. This current version of the Wizards has earned enough credit to have a bad game, even it was historically bad. Now if they start slowly on Sunday night, then I may join in on the boos from the couch.

I think the key to Game 4 is to get Nene involved once again. He has the ability to hit the shots outside of the paint, but that shot hasn’t been falling of late. Nene was 3-for-10 from the midrange in Game 1, 5-for-9 in Game 2, and 0-for-6 in Game 3. He needs to get back in the paint, get some easy baskets, draw some fouls on the Pacers big men, and give the Wizards perimeter guys some open shots so they can reestablish some rhythm. And Nene said as much after Game 3 about Washington needing to get back to the low block on offense (see the video below).

My concern is that David West, who hit two big jumpers over Al Harrington in the fourth quarter of Game 3, is primed to awaken from his shooting slump to terrorize the Wizards big men. (West was 1-for-3 from midrange in the first half of Game 3, 4-for-6 in the second half; on the night, West was 5-for-9 on uncontested shot attempts, 1-for-5 on contested attempts.) If West is allow to get off on Sunday, that will make it that much more difficult for the Wizards to get their confidence.

Do you think Randy Wittman should give Harrington more minutes, or was that limited sample size enough to convince you he belongs on the bench?



Post-Game 3 Nene.


May 11, 9:55 am

John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend):

Your concern about West is valid. Checked the numbers… During the regular season, he shot 37.1 percent from 10-to-14 feet, but that’s dipped to 35.3 percent this postseason.

Now, the long 2, West’s favorite shot (by volume), is the one to be worry about. That shot is ALWAYS open in the Pacers’ two-man game, and why Luis Scola gets minutes. He’s still shooting that 15-19-foot J at a solid rate, 43.9 percent, but hit 52.2 percent of those attempts during the season … a better rate than Tony Parker. Scary.

I’m not sure I like Harrington out there. Too flat-footed. Wouldn’t mind seeing more Drew Gooden, or even Trevor Ariza at the 4. The sub.-500 Hawks almost beat the Pacers by spreading the floor and shooting 3s. The Wiz, a more talented bunch, should try a similar approach. Bet they’d have more success (Wall would have more space to drive, too).

Side note: Wall needs to channel Russell Westbrook, or even Eagles back Brian Westbrook, on dives to the hoop. Holes disappear quickly in the paint, so Wall needs be more aggressive, more selfish, and jet past the big bodies to the rim.

Not that he must be more selfish, but the max man can’t be relying on his pull-up jumper. The free throw line is the Wizards’ life line, and Wall is the best option to get them there. He led the team in FTA per game during the season (3.9) and has shot nearly twice as many in the playoffs (7.5).


May 11, 12:57 pm

Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20):

Based on this Michael Wallace article from this morning, Wall seems to be very aware of the correlation between his ability to get in the paint and his team’s success:

“I’ll run my team as much as possible and try to get those guys going. I know my team feeds off how I get into the paint, get guys open shots. and how I create for myself. Unless I’m doing that job, I’m not doing my job.”

Wall also blamed his inability to be aggressive on the scratched eye he got in the third quarter. Wall usually isn’t one to make any type of excuses for his inability to produce, so the injury must have been significant.

I know we discussed how concerned the Wizards should be with West, but there’s also a distinct possibility that Roy Hibbert has awakened from his slumber. After making a conscious effort to get him going in Game 2, the Pacers went back to their normal offense, and even with fewer touches, Hibbert was still effective with 14 points, five rebounds, and three blocked shots. Marcin Gortat did a better job of pushing him a little further from the paint, but Hibbert was still able to back him down and get where he wanted. More importantly, Hibbert is playing defense once again, and doing an effective job of protecting the rim. When I was in the Pacers locker room after the game, everyone from West, to Lance Stephenson, to George Hill talked about how invincible they feel when Hibbert is in attack-mode on defense. When Hibbert is passive, their safety net is gone, and they aren’t as good defensively.

I know I picked the Pacers to win this series in seven games, and I’m not backing down off the prediction now. But I do think the Wizards will win tonight, simply because the Pacers’ recent track record with dealing with success is less than stellar. Washington wins, 91-80, and they will be led by Nene’s scoring and Wall’s assists.


May 11, 2:51 pm

John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend):

If the Wiz woke up a sleeping giant by stealing a win in Game 1, they should be concerned. Hibbert is the largest dude in the series, too big for any Wizards player to check, and averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks in last year’s playoffs.

As you mentioned, he is a terror when protecting the rim, and a big reason why the Pacers, despite their ho-hum second half of the season, still finished with the best record in the East. Out of the 23 NBA players who defended 7.5 or more shots at the rim per game during the regular season, Hibbert’s defensive field goal percentage was second-lowest (9.8 FGAs/G, 41.4%). He was better than DeAndre Jordan (49.4%), Serge Ibaka (43.9%), Marcin Gortat (50.1%), Dwight Howard (47.8%), Andre Drummond (52.3%), and Joakim Noah (46.8%); only Brook Lopez (40.3%) was better than Hibbert, in limited games (17).

In the playoffs, Hibbert’s FGAs defended at the rim per game are down to 5.1 and his defensive FG% has improved to 37.3 percent. Fee-fi-fo-fum. 

More interesting is that the Wizards, as a team, have actually shot better with Hibbert defending the rim (44.44%) than they have during the playoffs (42.5%).

The Wiz can still win the series, but they’ll have to play smarter, smaller, more creative basketball.



Bring Back Sad Roy.

[Sad Roy -- via]

[Sad Roy — via]

A traveling man.


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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop,, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.