2014 NBA playoffs: Wizards vs. Pacers


Wizards guard Bradley Beal averaged a team-best 19.8 points per game in the first round. (Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images)
May 4
Point guard

John Wall in the 2014 playoffs: 18.8 points per game, 6.8 assists per game

George Hill in the 2014 playoffs: 13.0 points per game, 4.0 assists per game

Wall shot poorly in his playoff debut against Chicago but had a positive influence while serving as a solid floor manager and occasional decoy until he scored a game-high 24 in the clincher. He will need to find a similar way to be effective against Indiana, which limited him to just 13.7 points and 34 percent shooting in three games this season. The Pacers were 4-1 when George scored at least 14 points against Atlanta in the first round. George has a reputation as a strong defender but struggled against Jeff Teague.

ADVANTAGE:Wizards

Shooting guard

Bradley Beal in the 2014 playoffs: 19.8 points per game, 45.5 three-point shooting percentage

Lance Stephenson in the 2014 playoffs:15.4 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game

Beal was hardly overwhelmed in his first postseason series as he averaged a team-best 19.8 points vs. Chicago and made 10 of 22 three-pointers. He joined Magic Johnson, Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, Harrison Barnes and Brandon Jennings as the only players to score at least 25 points in two playoff games before turning age 21. Stephenson is an emotional firecracker whose versatility and defensive tenacity lifts the Pacers during their occasional lulls but can also work to the detriment when he gets out of control.

ADVANTAGE:Wizards

Small forward

Trevor Ariza in the 2014 playoffs: 15.6 points per game, 46.4 three-point shooting percentage

Paul George in the 2014 playoffs:23.9 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game

Ariza has held his own defensively against Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James at different times in the regular season, so it was nothing for him to completely neutralize Bulls leading scorer D.J. Augustin in the first round. His three-point shooting also gave the Wizards a boost as he made a team-best 13, including a franchise-record-tying six en route to a playoff career-high 30 points in Game 4. George appeared to be a legitimate contender for league MVP earlier in the season, but has tapered off considerably while dealing with the trappings of fame and off-court distractions. He may have regained his rhythm by scoring 30 points in Game 7 against Atlanta. ADVANTAGE:Pacers

Power forward

Nene in the 2014 playoffs:17.8 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game

David West in the 2014 playoffs: 13.4 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per game

The Wizards benefited from a healthy, angry Nene in their five-game victory over the Bulls. Nene dominated his matchup against NBA defensive player of the year Joakim Noah, averaging 20.3 points and 61.7 percent shooting in three road wins. He was ejected in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ first home game of the series and suspended for the second. An 11-year veteran, West is the soul of the Pacers and saved his best efforts against Atlanta for when the team desperately needed him. West had 18 points in a huge road win in Game 4 and another 24 points to help Indiana stave off elimination in Game 6.

ADVANTAGE:Push

Center

Marcin Gortat in the 2014 playoffs: 10.8 points per game, 9.6 rebounds per game

Roy Hibbert in the 2014 playoffs: 5.3 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game

Gortat was a defensive anchor in the first round, averaging two blocks and grabbing at least 11 rebounds three times. Though he didn’t have the best series offensively against Chicago – he shot just 39 percent and failed to score in double figures in two of the five games – his production nearly doubled what Hibbert contributed in the first round against Atlanta. Hibbert, the former Georgetown star, was a liability on both ends and became the first all-star to have consecutive scoreless playoff games since Jim King in 1968. Atlanta made Hibbert irrelevant by going small, but the Wizards’ size might finally give him purpose.

ADVANTAGE:Wizards

Bench

Wizards in the 2014 playoffs: 13.8 points per game

Pacers in the 2014 playoffs: 22.4 points per game

The Wizards had a much tighter rotation in the postseason, with Trevor Booker, Martell Webster and Andre Miller the only reserves to play in all five games. Booker’s high-energy play was contagious and fueled several rallies, while Miller came through in the first two road wins in Chicago. Indiana’s second unit saved the Pacers against the Hawks, as Ian Mahinmi made up for the strange absence of Hibbert. C.J. Watson went on several scoring binges, and the insertion of Chris Copeland gave them the versatility to go small and close out the series.

ADVANTAGE:Pacers

Coach

Randy Wittman: 4-1 playoff record

Frank Vogel: 22-20 playoff record

After leading the Wizards to their first playoff series win since 2005, Wittman now has the greatest postseason winning percentage in NBA history at .800. He utilized his weapons to the fullest against the Bulls and made several shrewd moves that altered the series — he stuck with Andre Miller over John Wall in Game 1 and moved Ariza over to Augustin, shutting down Chicago’s best scoring in the clutch. After leading Indiana to the conference finals last season, Vogel coached the East in the All-Star Game and guided the team through a miserable late-season stretch to finish with the conference’s best record. He also made the necessary adjustments to help the team survive the Hawks.

ADVANTAGE:Pacers

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