Final Score: Wizards 102 Pacers 96
The Wizards do not lose on the road. Washington improved to 4-0 on the road during the 2014 NBA playoffs, taking down Indiana in game 1 of the Eastern Conference semis and stealing home court advantage, 102-96. Ariza did the damage early, and Beal closed it out late as a balanced Wizards attack was too much for Indiana. Indiana made two big runs in the game, at the start of the second quarter and at the close of the third, but each time Washington responded in kind and the game was never really in doubt down the stretch. George Hill hit three from long distance in the final 40 seconds to cut the final score to six, but the fans were filing out of Bankers Life Fieldhouse long before that, with the Wizards holding a double digit lead for the vast majority of the fourth.
The Pacers have great size in their front court, but the Wizards absolutely destroyed the Pacers on the boards. Washington outrebounded Indiana 53-36 and grabbed 17 on the offensive end compared to just six for the home side. That resulted in the Wizards winning the second chance points battle, 19-5. The teams were pretty equivalent in terms of how they shot the ball, with Washington at 41.7% and the Pacers at 40.7%, so it was the boards work that clearly made the difference. Both teams were excellent from deep, with the Wizards at 10/16 for 62.5% and the Pacers 8/17 for 47.1%. The rest of that stats were close as well, with neither team having a big advantage in free throws, turnovers or points in the paint. It was simply rebounding that made the difference. Gortat (12p/15r) and Gooden (12p/13r) were particularly dominant on the glass, and both finished with double-doubles.
Ariza and Beal did the heavy lifting in the scoring department, finishing with 22 and 25 respectively. Ariza's damage was almost entirely in the first half while Beal's damage was done in the second. Ariza was perfect from long range at 6/6 and also grabbed six rebounds. The six made threes without a miss is the second most in NBA history in the playoffs. Beal had a very complete line with 25 points (14 of them in the fourth quarter), seven assists, seven rebounds and five steals. It is very safe to say that the 20 year old shooting guard is putting the NBA on notice with his play. Magic Johnson is the only person in NBA history younger than Beal to have a game of 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists on the road in an NBA playoff game. Wall didn't have his shooting touch at 4/14 from the field for 13 points, but as he has done so well during these playoffs, played the role of pass first point guard, finishing with nine assists against just a single turnover. Wall was a game-high +19, showcasing how much he can impact a game without shooting the ball well. Nene had 16 points and five boards, despite having to sit out just about the entire third quarter with foul trouble.
Drew Gooden did not play much in the first round, but when his number was called tonight, he came up huge. With Nene in foul trouble in the second half, Gooden stepped in to the tune of 12 points and 13 boards, including seven on the offensive end. Gooden had more offensive rebounds than the entire Pacers team. Gortat was also a beast on the glass with 15 rebound and six of them coming on the offensive end.
Paul George and George Hill led the Pacers with 18 points each on just 4/17 and 6/11 shooting respectively. David West chipped in a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Roy Hibbert was invisible, recording neither a point nor a rebound in his 18 minutes.
The Wizards will look to take a commanding two games to zero lead on Wednesday night. Tip-off is at 7pm from Bankers Life Fieldhouse. - Jacob Raim
Third Quarter Update
The Wizards looked to be in cruise control of this one, up by as many as 16, but they missed 12 consecutive shots to end the quarter and the Pacers cut the lead to seven, 69-62. The Wizards struggled to get good looks down the stretch of the third frame, and when they did, it seemed like there was a lid on the hoop. The Pacers did not take full advantage, scoring only 19 in the frame in a spot where they really could have cut into the lead even further. The drought coincided with Nene picking up his fourth foul and having to sit a large percentage of the quarter. Ariza still leads Washington with 22 points and Gortat already has a double-double with 11 points and 14 boards. West and Stephenson got going for Indiana in the third as they now have 13 and 12 points respectively. - Jacob Raim
The old basketball adage 'it's a game of runs' proved very true in that second quarter. The Pacers opened the quarter on a 16-2 run to briefly take the lead, but the Wizards closed it on a 17-6 run and entered the half up by 13, 56-43. Trevor Ariza was the star of the show, scoring 17 points on 6/8 shooting, including a perfect 5/5 from long distance. The Pacers improved drastically offensively in the second frame, shooting 47% after shooting barely 20% in the first, and they turned it over just one time. Washington was very consistent offensively, going 11/23 and scoring 28 points in both quarters. The outside shooting, particularly of Ariza, carried them, as they were 6/9 from long distance. If Washington maintains a 28 point pace against the typically stingy Pacers defense, it could be tough for the Pacers to keep up.
All five of the Wizards starters scored at least seven points for a balanced offensive attack. Ariza had the aforementioned 17, Beal and Nene had 11 each, Wall had eight and Gortat seven. Wall played the role of distributor, much like he did for most of the first round, dishing out six assists against just one turnover. Gortat led the Wizards to a 25-20 rebounding edge with eight boards. The bench for Washington struggled during their minutes, as Webster, Booker and Miller combined for zero points and were all minuses. They'll need more from them going forward. George led the Pacers with 10 points, while Hibbert was a non factor with zero points and zero boards. - Jacob Raim
First Quarter Update
The Wizards jumped all over the Pacers in the early going and didn't slow down, leading 28-15 at the end of one. Washington opened the game up 8-0 on the strength of a couple of Ariza threes, and the Pacers were down for the entire quarter. Indiana shot just 21.7% and turned the ball over five times en route to a tough offensive quarter. The Wizards on the contrary shot 47.8% and only turned it over twice. Ariza led Washington with 11 points, including hitting three from outside. Gortat had seven points and four boards while Wall had six points and five assists. George led the Pacers with six points. - Jacob Raim
The pregame scene as we get set for Game 1 of #WizPacers!
And pregame video from both coaches:
All that's left now is to roll the ball out there and go to work!
We'll be chatting on WashingtonWizards.com throughout the game! See you there!
We held shootaround this morning at the University of Indianapolis, which is not too far from downtown Indy. There were plenty of members of the media waiting when the team arrived, something that everyone is getting used to. To give some perspective, during the regular season, there are some shootarounds with no media in attendance. Sometimes there are one or two writers or cameras, for bigger games there could be five or six. But, to see a flock of media like there was at this high-school styled gymnasium was quite a scene as we get prepped for the second round.
I think everyone is ready to get back to work. Not to say that we've been on vacation the last week, as we did practice Thursday-Sunday, but after watching so much great basketball the last few days, the Wiz are now ready to take center stage again as they take on the top-seeded Pacers.
Much has been written and said about the Pacers demise, but as a player or coach, you can't go into a game or a series expecting anything but the oppositions best. All they need to do is turn on the tape and watch the two poundings they took here in Indianapolis during the regular season. They failed to score over 73 points in either game as they really struggled to shoot the ball. Those games were a long time ago and tonight should be a much different story, but the film is there to simply provide a reminder as to what this Pacers team is capable of doing on the defensive side of the ball.
A lot of the players and head coach Randy Wittman talked about the pace of play and how important it will be to play at a quick pace tonight.
More from shootaround:
The Wizards are still playing the underdog role, even though some more people are picking them to beat the Pacers than there were who had them beating the Bulls. But, underdogs or not, they just need to keep on playing the way they've been playing and let their play on the court do all the talking for them.
It was DC rising in the air on Sunday as the Wizards team plane took flight to Indianapolis in preparation of Game 1 tonight.
After over a week of watching, discussing, analyzing, and re-analyzing the Bulls, it will be nice to see the Wizards play another opponent.
The Pacers are the number one seed, but it took them seven grueling games to get by the eighth seeded Hawks and they had just one day off before tonight's Game 1.
On the other side, the Wizards finished their series in five games and have had five days off in between games.
So, will they be well rested or rusty? If they open tonight 5/6 from the field, someone will tweet they were well rested. If they open 2/9, someone will tweet they are rusty. That's just how it works.
They did have four straight days of practice to stay sharp and went hard the last few days as they prepped for this second round series.
Like the Bulls series, this should be another tough, physical matchup between two teams that won't be afraid of contact.
The Wizards will want to push the pace again and play a more up-tempo style of game, while the Pacers will look to slow it down and play more in the half-court.
Get a full #WizPacers breakdown in the
Here's video from Sunday's practice, once the team finally knew who they were playing:
We'll be back with more from Monday's shootaround and then check in from Bankers Life Fieldhouse Monday night.