Indiana Pacers Coach Frank Vogel addresses the media after a loss to the Washington Wizards
Prior to last Saturday night’s game against the Washington Wizards, Indiana Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel wrote the following words on the white bulletin board in the visitor’s locker room, ”He’s a difference maker.”
The “he” was John Wall, and Coach Vogel was well-aware of Wall’s torrid play during the month of March, when he averaged 22 points and eight assists per game, also putting up a career-high 47 points against the Memphis Grizzlies. Vogel undoubtedly knew that earlier in the week, Bradley Beal, the other formidable offensive threat on the Wizards’ roster, was ruled out for the rest of the regular season with a stress injury to his right fibula. In the first game after the announcement about Beal, the Wizards lost 88-78 to the lowly Raptors in Toronto, and Wall was harassed into a 5-for-18 shooting night, including 1-for-10 outside of the paint. Coach Vogel went on to give specifics about the game plan for stopping Wall:
“He’s a sensational young talent, he changes their team offensively, and you really have to put most of your defensive game plan into limiting what he brings to the table … you still want to keep him out of the paint first, and hope that he’s not getting hot from the perimeter.”
Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 30th game of the season against the Pacers in Indiana are TAI’s Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) and guest Jared Wade (@Jared_Wade), who writes about the Pacers for the ESPN TrueHoop blog 8 Points 9 Seconds.
[D.C. Council: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the subs, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is on the table. Game No. 9, Washington Wizards vs. Indiana; contributors: Rashad Mobley and John Converse Townsend from the Verizon Center with Kyle Weidie from behind the T.V.]
“The 5 and 4 is pretty much interchangeable in the NBA. A post player is a post player, and as far as the roles of 4 and 5, they’re becoming more hazy anyway. To me, 4 and 5 is who you guard … who’s going to guard the taller guy that game.
“Even within a game, you cross-match sometimes, so it really doesn’t matter.”
—Emeka Okafor from the summer league in Las Vegas
It’s never too early to ask the question. With the rapid development of Kevin Seraphin as a legitimate post scoring threat (defense and rebounding… working on it), and the last two primary trade acquisitions of the Washington Wizards — Nene and Emeka Okafor — which combination of big men will best setup the Wizards (and John Wall) for success?
The Wizards and Pacers face off tonight in Washington for the third time in about two weeks. Indiana is coming off an emotional 112-104 comeback victory over the New York Knicks in Indiana last night, and the Wizards are coming off an emotionless effort at home against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday. For tonight’s 3-on-3 we have Tim Donahue (@TimDonahue8p9s) from the ESPN TrueHoop Pacers blog 8 Points, 9 Seconds, along with TAI’s Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20) and Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It). Let it begin…
#1) What stat and what player will most determine the outcome of this game?
DONAHUE: Oscar Wilde says, “Talent borrows, genius steals,” so I’m going to shamelessly steal from Kyle Weidie’s response to a similar question from the last Pacers-Wiz 3-on-3: Offensive Rebounding. In the first matchup, the Pacers grabbed 11 of the 19 boards off their offensive glass in the second half, when they outscored Washington 54-32. In the second one, the Wiz stayed close by grabbing 38-percent of the rebounds on their offensive end. The player most likely to influence the outcome of this game is two of them: George Hill and Leandro Barbosa. They are the barometers of the Pacer bench.
MOBLEY: It sounds simple, but its all about rebounding. The final boxscore from the last Pacers/Wizards game shows the Pacers had the advantage 40-35. But in the second half of the game (when the Pacers outscored the Wizards 54-32), Indiana had a 26-11 rebounding advantage. Roy Hibbert had nine rebounds in the second half and David West had four — three of which were kept the Wizards from taking the lead in the last minute. With Nene and Booker likely to be out again, the Wizards will need collaborative rebounding effort, while the Pacers could (and should) exploit the Wizards’ replacement frontline.
Another game, another competitive loss for the Washington Wizards, this time at the hands of the Indiana Pacers on the road, 93-89. TAI’s Adam McGinnis and Kyle Weidie have the reaction.
John Wall… what on earth was he doing in the end? Undoubtedly the worst decision-making ever seen from him. First, there was the charge call drawn by Paul George with 3:36 left with a chance to keep momentum and tie the game at 82; Wall just barreled into him with no choice otherwise. He then took a tired jumper on the break with 19 seconds on the shot clock that could have tied the game at 87 with 1:35 left. He didn’t wait for Nenê, who was running with him, to get set for a pick or a rebound; it was like Wall was using the late game moment to improve his own jumper rather than make the smart decision. But he was the pass-first point guard with 30 seconds left, it’s just that he should not have been. Changing speeds and jetting to the basket off the pick, Wall pulled a hesitation move and started to go up against Roy Hibbert. It looked like Wall had room to get to the rim, or at least the other side (or draw the foul), but he threw the ball back to Nenê instead. Or at least he tried to. Wall’s pass was low and off, it skidded into the backcourt. It was the turnover that led to the Wizards foul that then led to Danny Granger free-throws which gave Indiana an 89-85 lead that they didn’t look back from. Wall finished with 13 points on 4-for-9 shooting with five turnovers, two assists, two steals, and two rebounds.Game Changer, indeed.
Nenê was questionable due to back spasms entering the game, but you would not have guessed the Brazilian big man was battling a lingering injury while watching him score 16 points and pulling down 13 boards while limiting Indiana’s All-Star center Roy Hibbert to just nine points. Nene continues to provide a legitimate low post scoring threat that Washington has sorely lacked. He was 2-3 in 4th quarter with his only miss being a no call where he was clearly slapped on the wrist by Hibbert. The Wizards struggled down the stretch by not running enough offense through him in the post or by not having him cutting toward the basket off pick-and-rolls. Read more »
“Nene is a versatile player who will bring experience and a physical presence to our frontcourt. He is a strong rebounder, tough defender and a fierce competitor. His veteran leadership and postseason experience will be a positive influence in our locker room.”
“Nene is coming to us from a winning program. He has played in a system that we admire. It is up tempo and high scoring and he has good hands; runs the floor well; and is very strong. He is a team first kind of player. He is about winning and is a respected teammate. He is a family man; a player who is secure in who he is; and a player who has battled through adversity and is dependable and strong in spirit.”
That same March 15 NBA trade deadline day, Derek Fisher was unceremoniously traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Houston Rockets, had his contract bought out, and then signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder that next week. Thunder general manager Sam Presti spoke of Fisher providing intangibles and veteran leadership to Kevin Durant, rookie Reggie Jackson and Russell Westbrook. Fisher did not shy away from the role: Read more »
[NOTE: This is a late, RETRO-active post RE: Wizards vs. Pacers last Thursday. But good news, reads JUST LIKE WIZARDS LOSS TO HAWKS on Saturday night. But it's okay. At this point, they're just games. At least that's what they feel like... robotic, fabricated games. The DC Council -- After each Wizards game: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the bench, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is over the table. Click here for cumulative DC Council 3-star ratings over the course of the season. Game 46 contributors: Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis), Rashad Mobley(@Rashad20), and Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It).]
Mike Dunleavy is definitely no longer a Pacer; Andray Blatche is barely a Wizard; But, I still love this pic… Andray kicking it with Tyler Hansbrough’s chin.
[photo: K. Weidie, Truth About It.net]
The trade deadline came and went one week ago today, and even though they didn’t land Dwight Howard, the Wizards and the Pacers made moves to get better — and those moves coincidentally involved two members of the Brazilian National Team. Pacers team president Larry Bird said the addition of Leandro Barbosa, “added depth and scoring off the bench and will help us as we make our run to the playoffs,” while Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld said Nene is a “versatile player who will bring experience and a physical presence to our frontcourt … a strong rebounder, tough defender and a fierce competitor.” Barbosa had 12 points in 18 minutes in his first game as an Indiana Pacer on Tuesday night, while Nene scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in just 31 minutes in his first game as a Wizard last night. The two Brazilians will go head-to-head (presumably not against each other) tonight at the Verizon Center, but before they do Ian Levy (@HickoryHigh) from the SB Nation Pacers blog Indy Cornrows, Jared Wade (@jared_wade) from the ESPN True Hoop Blog Eight points, Nine seconds, and yours truly, TAI’s Rashad Mobley (@rashad20), will give three answers to three questions…Read more »