INDIANAPOLIS – The Wizards already know the stakes at Bankers Life Fieldhouse: If they lose to the Indiana Pacers, the season is over. If they win, the series goes back to Washington for Game 6.
“Our season is already on the line, now we’re going to be playing like our lives are on the line,” veteran Drew Gooden said. “We’re all professional basketball players whether we’ve been in the playoffs or not. We already have a sense of urgency, so we know what needs to be done.”
The Wizards are the 195th team to go down three games to one in a best-of-seven series, but only eight have come back to win the next three games. Though the four percent odds of completing the comeback aren’t exactly in their favor, Bradley Beal thinks the Wizards can rally against the Pacers.
“I can’t wait to see how this goes, because we’ve never been in this position before. It’s do or die. I can definitely see us being a little too anxious,” Beal said. “I have a great feeling about tonight. We have a great opportunity to win, in my eyes. The biggest thing for us all, we just want to get it back to DC and protect our homecourt as best we can. It starts tonight. Last 48 hours for me have been. It’s a lot of pressure but why not try to make history.”
John Wall has been in a funk since a late-game meltdown in Game 2 and has yet to recover. Before the game, Wall expressed his disappointment about not delivering for his team in crunch time.
“It’s just frustrating when you know you can play better and you’re not helping as much as you can,” Wall said. “You have to go out there and play better and try to give yourself a chance to win. I made jump shots and those guys, do a good job of rebounding. Now they’re sending those guys back. I’ve got to play better. I’m not making no excuses for nobody.”
The Wizards believe that they could easily be up 3-1 if a few plays had broken in their favor. “They’re making the right play,” Wall said. “They’re a pretty good defensive team. I think they’re the same as the Chicago Bulls defensively, but they have more weapons on the offensive end. That’s the difference. Chicago had trouble scoring down the stretch, these guys have multiple guys that can put the ball in the basket.”
Coach Randy Wittman said his team has to put the past behind them and try to play a complete game for the first time since Game1. “I sensed a great focus of the job at hand. Our backs are against the wall. We’ve got to go out and leave it on the floor. I don’t think in this series, we’ve had our main guys all have good games together. Tonight, is going to be that night.”
(TV: TNT: WNEW-99.1 FM, WFED-1500 AM)
Here’s some reading to get you ready for the game: