Wizards-Pacers Game 1: Halftime analysis


John Wall helped the Wizards get off to a quick start Monday, recording eight points and six assists to push his team to a 56-43 halftime lead against Indiana in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series (AP Photo/Michael Conroy).

What Happened: Behind another blazing start, the Washington Wizards built a 56-43 halftime lead on the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series.

What Went Well for the Wizards: Washington jumped out to 8-0 lead that included two Trevor Ariza three-pointers and five transition points. Ariza would go on to hit all five of his first-half three-point attempts. As was the case against Chicago, quick starts will be key for the Wizards in setting the pace for every game. Meantime, the Pacers missed 17 of their first 22 shots behind six blocked shots (like the one below) and five forced turnovers by Washington in the first quarter. John Wall looked very comfortable not only in transition but in the half-court sets, as the Wizards had 15 assists on 22 field goals. After struggling to finish in the first round, Marcin Gortat got off to a good start by taking advantage of Roy Hibbert’s continued struggles for the Pacers and recording seven points and eight rebounds. Hibbert, on the other hand, had more fouls (three) than total points and rebounds (zero). And with backup center Ian Mahinmi strapped with two fouls, Washington was able to attack the basket with confidence.

 

What Went Wrong for the Wizards: The Pacers woke up and the Wizards let off the gas some in the second quarter. Indiana went on a 16-2 run to take the lead behind David West’s eight points and seven rebounds. West is a tough matchup for the not-so-nimble Nene because of his versatility and equally soft touch from the mid-range. Much of that had to do with the continued struggles of Washington’s bench, which totaled just two first-half points. Unlike Chicago’s seven-man rotation, Indiana has depth and the 17 points from their reserves allowed them to pull back into contention following Monday’s slow start.

What to Watch for in the Second Half: With the crowd against them and the Pacers possessing a number of weapons, the Wizards need another strong start after halftime to create a cushion should their bench continue its struggles. With Hibbert, Mahinmi and Lance Stephenson in foul trouble, Washington should look to continue its physical play and sound ball movement. Defensively, while West and Paul George (10 points on 3-of-11 shooting) can’t beat the Pacers alone, the Wizards will need to neutralize one of them to extinguish any hopes of Indiana making this a game again.

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