Stop the Hate: 3 Reasons Why Nene is Not (Solely) to Blame for Game 5 Loss | Wizards Blog Truth About

Stop the Hate: 3 Reasons Why Nene is Not (Solely) to Blame for Game 5 Loss

Updated: May 15, 2015

Yes, Nene should have grabbed the rebound. But his was not the only failure on that fateful final play. Here are three reason why Nene does not deserve all of your vitriol.

#1) Paul Pierce Didn’t Box Out.

Sure, Nene lost his man. But after Schroder drove, Nene turned and located the nearest uncovered player, which was Paul Millsap. If Nene had stayed with Horford, Millsap would have had a free path to the rim. Why was Millsap left uncovered with a free path to the rim? Because Paul Pierce did not bother to box him out. After a gentle reach toward Schroder, Pierce was out of the play.

In fairness, Pierce did not display any more or less defensive effort on the final play than he does on any other play. Which begs the question: Why was Pierce even on the court for an end-of-game defensive possession?

Some people have suggested that Gortat should have replaced Nene, but I have no problem with having the big Brazilian on Horford because Nene does the little stuff on final plays the refs will never call, like displacing DeMarre Carroll’s hip to free up Pierce’s game-tying 3-point attempt in Game 4.

Watch again what Nene does to Millsap. He bulldozes him to the ground. That’s exactly what Nene would have done to Horford if Pierce hadn’t let Millsap free. In fact, Nene almost picked up the 2-10 split after he ricocheted off Millsap but couldn’t quite recover to Horford.

#2) Nene’s Rebound Would Not Necessarily Have Won the Game.

If Nene had grabbed the rebound, Atlanta would have fouled him with a little over three seconds left in the game. Nene is not a good free throw shooter and Atlanta had one timeout remaining. Even if Nene sinks both (which was not likely) Atlanta has plenty of time to set up a final game-tying attempt.

#3) Why Doesn’t Washington Have a Pre-Planned Baseline Out of Bounds Play?

Al Horford scored with 1.9 seconds remaining. As anyone who has ever watched the NCAA Tournament knows, that is plenty of time to get a decent shot attempt. The play is simple: send a big man to the half-court circle and have two guards run up the sidelines. Throw a lob to the big man at half-court and have him swing it to one side for a jumper.

Why isn’t this a standard play at the end of every game when you have no timeouts? This play should be practiced regularly throughout the season and should be second nature whenever an opponent takes the lead on a late basket. The coaching staff should have been hammering the point home during Atlanta’s final timeout with 8.3 seconds remaining: If Atlanta scores, run the Bryce Drew play.

Is it likely to be successful? No. But at least it gives you a chance. There is no reason to concede the game by hoisting a running 70 footer when there is plenty of time left to do more.

This is not the first time Washington has effectively forfeited a Game 5 playoff game with a panicked in-bounds pass. In overtime of Game 5 of the 2006 Playoffs versus Cleveland, Lebron scored on a baseline drive with 0.9 seconds remaining to give the Cavs a 121-120 lead.

Wizards players stood frozen in disbelief for a second before Gilbert Arenas told Antawn Jamison to quickly in-bound him the ball at Washington’s own foul line. Arenas’ running three-quarter court shot fell short. However, Washington still had a timeout remaining and had plenty of time to draw up a play for Gilbert. If there is anyone in the history of the Bullets/Wizards franchise that I would trust with 0.9 seconds remaining in a one-point playoff game, it’s Gilbert.


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Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.