In the aftermath of Washington’s 102-93 win against Chicago in Sunday’s Game 1, there were plenty of numbers thrown around, from the Wizards winning Game 1 of a seven-game series for the first time since 1979 to Nene’s big 24-point performance in his first start since returning from a sprained knee ligament.
One game does not make a playoff series, but by crunching the numbers from Sunday’s contest, it’s clear that the Wizards built a sound blueprint on how to tame the defensively tough Bulls.
Points per 36 minutes scored by Nene in four games prior to Sunday’s Game 1. With the veteran forward working his way back into the rotation following six weeks to heal his knee, there was some question as to how Nene would handle starting and an increased workload. But Nene’s 24 points in 35 minutes on Sunday were right on par with his per-36-minutes performance in four games off the bench.
From his thunderous, one-handed jam start the game to his career-high seven jumpers from outside 10 feet, Nene set the tone for the Wizards, who needed to match the grit and physicality of the NBA’s best defensive team. Nene even found success against Joakim Noah, who is expected to be named Defensive Player of the Year on Monday. Nene shot 7 for 13 against Noah, using his mid-range jumper to pull Chicago’s top rebounder outside the paint and help the Wizards win the battle on the boards, 45-39.
Field-goal percentage that the Wizards have shot in three wins against the Bulls this season, including a 48.6 clip in Sunday’s victory. During the regular season, Chicago held opponents to 43 percent from the field — good for second-best in the NBA — with teams shooting below 50 percent in 70 of its 82 games. Opponents who managed to make more than half of their shots against the Bulls went 10-2 in those contests. Washington has now won five straight playoff games against Chicago, dating back to their 2005 playoff series.
Times the Wizards went to the free-throw line in Sunday’s win. That’s nearly 13 more attempts than the 23.3 Chicago allowed during the regular season, which again, shows Washington’s aggressive approach. The Wizards, who ranked 25th in the league in free-throw shooting at 73.1 percent, hit just 26 of their attempts (74.3 percent). But Washington did knock down all 12 of its free throws in the fourth quarter to keep Chicago at bay.
4 for 11
Number of three-point makes and attempts that the Wizards had in Game 1. Washington averaged 20.8 three-point tries per game during the season, but on Sunday, the Wizards’ first attempt and make came on a Martell Webster three from the corner at the 10 minute 4 second mark of the second quarter. The Wizards have both lived and died by the three this year, and with Chicago known for its ability to keep teams out of the paint behind the defense of Noah and Taj Gibson, it’d be easy for Washington settle for perimeter shots. But on Sunday, it was the Bulls who took to hoisting three-pointers, firing 20 attempts and hitting just five. The output again showed Washington’s ability to dictate the tempo against the normally deliberate Bulls, who averaged just 17.8 three-point attempts during the season but shot an average of 22.7 in three regular-season meetings with the Wizards.
Points totaled by Nene, Marcin Gortat and Andre Miller. The impact of twin towers Nene and Gortat has been clear all season, as the Wizards outscored their opponents by 10 points per 100 possessions when the two were on the floor during the season. On Sunday, the two combined to shoot 22 for 35 from the field for 39 points. And while many will call him old (yes, he’s 38) or old-school (yes, he’s played slow since his college days at Utah), Miller has provided a welcome jolt off the bench for the Wizards. Since acquiring Miller from Denver in February, Washington has scored 108.6 points per 100 possessions when Wall is not on the floor, compared to a 92.8 offensive rating before the Miller trade. Miller’s 10 points in 14 minutes resulted in Wall playing the least of Washington’s starters with 34 minutes.
Drives by D.J. Augustin on Sunday, according to NBA.com/stats. The Bulls leading scorer came off the bench and hit all 10 of his free throws, giving John Wall and Bradley Beal trouble off the dribble on defense. Washington also struggled to slow down Kirk Hinrich, who totaled seven drives and scored four points while being guarded by Wall. The Wizards’ two stars, who missed 18 of their 25 total shots, certainly have some things to learn from and improve upon following their playoff debuts, but better to learn from a victory than a loss.