After finishing on the wrong side of history on Friday when they set a new franchise record for fewest points scored in a game in a 85-63 loss to Indiana, the Washington Wizards find themselves fighting against history entering Sunday’s Game 4 at Verizon Center.
The team that wins Game 3 in a best-of-seven series when the series is tied at 1-1 has gone on to win 75.9 percent of the time in NBA history. Advantage: Pacers.
What’s more, 194 NBA teams have fallen behind 3-1 in a best-of-seven series and only eight have advanced to the next round. Whether Indiana can wrestle that advantage from the Wizards in Sunday will be played out in the next few hours. But as Wizards Coach Randy Wittman pointed out after initially stealing homecourt advantage with their win in Game 1, the Wizards still have reason to be confident.
“Everything’s status quo right now. (Indiana has) played two home games, we’ve played one home game and it’s two to one,” Wittman said after Saturday’s practice. “Everything all you experts say, supposedly they’re supposed to win two home games, they’re supposed to win two home games. So if we win tomorrow, we go back there (tied at two games) and that’s how series are. It’s an ebb and flow thing. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t and we’ve got to be able to respond in a positive way when it doesn’t.”
Needless to say, the first step to a positive response by the Wizards on Sunday is moving past their abysmal Game 3 shooting — and it won’t be the first time. Though it seems like ions ago, Bradley Beal began these playoffs with a performance even worse than Friday, as he went 3-for-11 in Washington’s series-opening win against Chicago. The next game? Beal played like a playoff veteran by scoring nine of the Wizards’ last 10 fourth-quarter points to lead the team to an overtime win.
Same goes for Nene, who went 3-for-14 on Friday. The Wizards forward shot just 5-for-15 in Game 3 before being ejected and subsequently suspended for Game 4 of the Chicago series. Next game? He scored 20 points on 10-for-17 shooting to help close out the Bulls.
These performances are what Wittman said the Wizards should draw back entering Game 4, where he expects his players to play and shoot with confidence from the field and at the free-throw line.
“You work to get an open shot, sometimes we started turning them down and then that next shot is not very good,” Wittman said. “When you work to get an open shot, we have to step up and take that. They’re a good defensive team, no question about that. But we saw in Game 1 what we could do in terms of making the simple plays, don’t predetermine what you’re going to do.”
(TV: TNT; WNEW-99.1 FM, WFED-1500 AM)
Here’s some reading to get you ready for tonight’s game: