With Sunday marking the fourth of at least five meetings between the Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls and in the wake of Nene’s one-game suspension following a Game 3 altercation with Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, it’s safe to say the matchup’s monotony mixed with the natural flow of playoff intensity is beginning to surface among both teams.
“It’s really like I get on the court and I’m thinking, ‘I’m really sick of seeing y’all ‘ because you’re playing the same team, potentially seven times in a row, so it’s like, ‘Man, you’re not going to go away,’” a grinning Bradley Beal said following Saturday’s practice. “So we’ve got to try to win four games to get them out of here.”
The task of moving one step closer to a sweep could be a bit tougher for the Wizards with Nene sitting out Sunday’s game at Verizon Center to serve his one-game suspension. As was the case when Nene missed 21 games earlier this season with a knee injury, Trevor Booker will start in his place at forward. Drew Gooden is also expected to see a spike in playing time as Booker’s backup with the hope that his strong rebounding ability and mid-range shot can replicate what Nene brings to the Wizards.
“We [played without Nene] at the end of the year, so it’s not something that’s foreign to us and guys that played when Nene is absent are going to have to be ready and step up, so we’re fully confident in that,” Wizards Coach Randy Wittman said.
Marcin Gortat will also look to elevate his impact on both ends of the floor, from sealing off driving lanes on defense to being more active on pick-and-roll plays with Wizards guard John Wall on the offense.
“You’ve got to bring it,” Gortat said. “There’s opportunity for me to play bigger role. Offense is going to go through me. “I’ve got to be on top of my game.”
In Game 3, Mike Dunleavy was at the top of his game, scoring a career-high 35 points and draining a playoff franchise-record eight three-pointers to help Chicago surge forward for its first victory of the series. For a guy who averaged 11 points per game and shot 38 percent from three during the regular season, odds are Game 4 won’t bring as tremendous of a performance. Still, Beal said the Wizards aren’t taking any chances in their defensive approach Sunday.
“He’s a great shooter but we’ve got to try to contain him,” Beal said. “We’ve got to do a lot better job of chasing him and bigs helping upon screens and trying to get the ball out of his hands.
“For us to be in a position where we’re up 2-1, we’re happy but at the same time, we’re not,” Beal continued. “We’ve still got two more to get. We’ve got to compete better and come out more focused.”
(TV: ABC. Radio: WNEW-99.1 FM, WFED-1500 AM)
Here’s some reading to get you ready for Sunday’s game: