For the first time in seven playoff games, the Washington Wizards lost on the road Wednesday, as the Indiana Pacers grinded out an 86-82 victory in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal matchup.
Here are some numbers that dropped the Wizards to 4-1 on the road in the playoffs:
Post-up plays run by the Indiana Pacers, including nine for Roy Hibbert, according to ESPN Stats & Info. After Indiana ran just one post-up play in Game 1, Wednesday’s game demonstrated how much the Pacers were able to slow down the tempo to their favor and work from the inside out. Fronting the 7-foot-2 Hibbert in the post is a tough task and chances are he won’t score 28 points every night, but the Wizards must do a better job of ensuring that Hibbert catches the ball farther from the basket. Wizards center Marcin Gortat did his best to match Hibbert with 21 points and 11 rebounds but Washington’s firepower rests more in its speed and penetration ability than in the post.
2 for 11
Second-half performance by the Wizards from behind the three-point line. Four of those misses came in the final three minutes when the Wizards’ three-point lead gave way to Indiana’s four-point victory. Time and again during these playoffs, John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza or Nene always seemed to have an answer for their opponents’ runs. Perhaps this past success led to their repeated efforts to tie the game in one shot rather than chip away at their three-point deficit by attacking the basket. Wizards Coach Randy Wittman preaches the need for his players to take open shots, but in the waning moments of a close playoff game, the goal for the Wizards in their halfcourt sets must be finding and taking the best shot.
Fast-break point by the Wizards, compared to Indiana’s 10, marking the second straight game they’ve been outscored in this category. Washington’s chances at controlling the pace and pushing the tempo took a severe hit when it sputtered to its first slow start of these playoffs. Often down the stretch of Game 2, Wall found himself playing off the ball, preventing him from managing the offense with his speed and dribble penetration. Beal’s shooting ability compared to Wall’s shooting woes (2 for 13) were better suited for the high pick-and-roll situations late in Game 2, but having Wall as a harmless bystander rather than on the ball making plays diminished Washington’s offensive potential and efficiency.
Second-chance points by the Wizards, off 11 offensive rebounds. Some of these opportunities were squandered by hurried three-pointers. Others were simply because open shots didn’t fall. But in a series in which possessions will be limited due to Indiana’s insistence on playing at a deliberate pace, the Wizards must turn their rebounding advantage into easy buckets — especially with them struggling at the foul line, where they went 5 for 12 on Wednesday. Washington’s 12 free throw attempts, compared to 31 in Game 1, also demonstrate its propensity to settle for outside shots rather than attack the basket.
5 for 13
Shooting performance from the field by Indiana’s Paul George in Game 2. In five games against the Wizards this season, George is just 27 for 85 (31.8 percent) and much of that credit goes to Trevor Ariza. The Wizards swingman has harassed George with his length, craftiness in slipping around screens and hard-nosed play. Ariza held George scoreless for the second and third quarters before he broke loose for two big buckets down the stretch. Still, if the Wizards can continue to stifle George, it then becomes a matter of sending Hibbert back to his recent struggles and containing Lance Stephenson, which Washington did in holding him scoreless for the first half Wednesday.
More on Wizards vs. Pacers: