CHICAGO – No matter what happens in Tuesday’s Game 2, the Wizards will return to Washington with home court advantage after coming to United Center and stunning the Chicago Bulls, 102-93, in Game 1 of this best-of-seven series. But the Wizards have taken no satisfaction with one win because the objective remains to get four and move on.
“We’re not relaxed at all,” John Wall said. “We still respect the Bulls and we’re still the underdogs in this situation. We just got a tough win in Game 1 and we’ve got to play even harder to win Game 2. We’re focused, we’re locked in and we’re prepared. We know, we understand. It’s just one game. It’s a lot more games left in this series. We’re not overconfident or nothing like that.”
The Wizards expect the Bulls to make some adjustments and come out ready to even the series, especially with Joakim Noah receiving the defensive player of the year trophy before tip-off. Coach Randy Wittman said the Wizards have to avoid thinking that their task in Chicago was completed during a dominant fourth-quarter in which they outscored the Bulls, 30-18, outrebounded them, 13-6, and forced them into missing all five of their three-point attempts.
“We’ve got to treat this like another game, like it’s Game 1, once again,” Wittman said. “The intensity level is going to pick up as the series moves on. We have to have that understanding. Understanding it’s going to be a dogfight. And you’ve got to stay in the fight, 48 minutes and when we do that, we always give ourselves an opportunity.”
In the locker room after the game, Marcin Gortat warned his teammates about falling into their season-long trap of being satisfied with the slightest bit of success.
“I’m really hoping that we already went through that and that each one of us know what we’re fighting for and stay hungry,” said Gortat, who has returned to the playoffs for the first time since reaching the Eastern Conference finals with Orlando in 2010.
Gortat and Nene combined 39 points and 21 rebounds in Game 1, helping to compensate for poor shooting performances by Wall and Bradley Beal. While the Wizards could take some comfort in that they were able to win without great offensive nights by either of their top scorers, Beal believes that the team has to take the opposite mindset into the next game.
“We got to play like we’re down 0-1,” he said. “Got to come in with a sense of urgency because they’re going to come from the start ready to go. It’s going to be another physical game, so we have to hit them first and never stop.”
Wall prefers to have people overlooking the Wizards, despite an impressive showing in the first game of this series.
“I been the underdog my whole career, so it really doesn’t bother me. It’s exciting,” Wall said.”We definitely want to go back home up 2-0 but the main thing is coming on the road and trying to get a game. That’s tough. We did it Game 1, but we’re confident and believe in ourselves. We’re still confident and know that they are a capable team that can beat anybody with their defense and we know they’re going to come out with a stellar defensive game plan tonight and try to come back to get a win.”