With Sunday’s 98-89 victory in Game 4, the Washington Wizards took a three-games-to-one lead in their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series with Chicago and positioned themselves to win their third playoff series since the 1970s. Here’s a numbers-oriented look at how the Wizards rolled to victory Sunday:
Three-pointers made by Trevor Ariza, tying a franchise record also set by Gilbert Arenas in 2006. During this series, Ariza has made 50 percent of his catch-and-shoot three-point attempts and 52.2 percent of his overall catch-and-shoot attempts, according to ESPN Stats & Info. As noted in this blog post, when Ariza is locked in, good things happen for the Wizards.
Turnovers by the Washington Wizards, marking the fewest turnovers forced by the Bulls (aka the NBA’s top defensive team) all season. On the other hand, Chicago turned over the ball 16 times, with guards Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin combining for six miscues alone. The Wizards scored 29 points off Chicago’s 16 turnovers and had 22 assists, led by John Wall’s 10. The resounding message sent by these numbers is this: Washington controlled the tempo, outscoring the Bulls 16-2 in fast-break points, and therefore, controlled the game from the start, evidenced by their 14-0 run in the opening minutes. Speaking of the first quarter …
28.3 – 22.0
Points averaged by the Wizards and Bulls, respectively, in the first period through four games in this series. Washington’s largest first-quarter leads have been in Game 2 (17 points) and Game 4 (15 points). For the Wizards, a fast start is key to victory against the offensively challenged Bulls, who averaged a NBA-low 93.7 points per game during the regular season. Defense is, of course, important, but if a team can’t consistently score, it can’t overcome early deficits.
Points scored by the Wizards in the fourth quarter. Chicago used a 17-4 run in the fourth period to trim a 21-point deficit to eight points with less than two minutes to play. Just as Washington’s fast starts are noted, it’s important to note their slight struggle to seal the deal in the fourth quarter. Should they want to make a deep run in the postseason, Washington has to display a killer instinct when it’s up big on a team, especially in the playoffs, where anything is possible.
20-point games for John Wall in Washington’s past 12 games. The Wizards lost both, with Wall netting 23 points in Friday’s Game 3 and 20 points in an April 5 regular-season loss to Chicago. In the other 10 games during that stretch, the Wizards have gone 9-1, with Wall averaging 16.7 points and 9.5 assists. The All-Star guard had 15 points and 10 assists in Sunday’s victory. Is Wall scoring a bad thing? Of course not. He averaged a team-high and career-best 19.3 points during the regular season for the Eastern Conference’s fifth-best squad. But the Wizards clearly are at their best when Wall is also in distribution mode, as evidenced by his NBA-high and career-best 721 regular-season assists.