What Happened: Behind the inspired play of its bench and 12 points each from Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal, the Washington Wizards raced to a 55-38 halftime lead on Indiana in Sunday’s Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series.
What Went Well for the Wizards: The pace swung back to Washington’s preferred uptempo speed and just about everyone seemed to benefit. Every starter outside of Gortat had scored at least twice midway through the first period. Wall dished out five assists to lead Washington’s quicker attack and Trevor Ariza again benefited, nailing his first four shots. The Wizards bench, which was averaging 13.7 points this series, exploded for 19 points behind its “AARP group.” Al Harrington scored six quick points, Drew Gooden had a big block and Andre Miller found Martell Webster from beyond halfcourt for an alley-oop that punctuated a 12-0 run to start the second quarter. With their veterans pushing them, the Wizards outscored the Pacers 18-0 in fastbreak points. 15 of these points came off of Indiana’s 11 turnovers, as the Wizards held the Pacers to just 3-for-17 shooting in the second quarter. Perhaps the most telling stat: The Wizards scored 55 first-half points after mustering just 63 total points on Friday.
What Went Wrong for the Wizards: Paul George and George Hill gave the Wizards defense some problems early on by attacking the basket and knocking down pull-up jumpers. Paul George’s 11 points continued his steady upward trend in this series. In the second quarter, the bench mob that sparked the Wizards took a hit after Al Harrington picked up his third foul and Andre Miller got his second, sending them to the bench, where they joined Marcin Gortat, who sat the entire second quarter after struggling early.
What to Watch For in the Second Half: Paul George’s quick start helped the Pacers early but it played into Washington’s hopes of upping the pace. Now that the Wizards are somewhat comfortably ahead and with Gortat struggling, watch to see if Indiana goes back to its Game 2 plan of feeding the ball to Hibbert in hopes of slowing the game back to a deliberate pace. As Washington looks to stretch its lead, it must remain active