What Happened: Behind sound defense and hot shooting, the Indiana Pacers hold a 52-40 halftime lead Thursday on the Wizards in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
What Went Well For the Wizards: Washington received solid contribution from its bench in the form of Andre Miller and Martell Webster, as both attacked the rim. Marcin Gortat got going early again with eight quick points, although his production decreased as the half wore on and the Pacers defense stood strong. The Wizards were able to worry about one less Pacer threat when Lance Stephenson, who was off to his best start of the series, picked up his third foul late in the first quarter. Considering its struggles on both ends of the floor, the Wizards are fortunate to be down only 12 points and within striking distance.
What Went Wrong for the Wizards: Unlike the six times they’ve went on to win playoff games, the Wizards trailed after the first quarter, thanks in part to Indiana’s 58 percent shooting. Trevor Ariza got in early foul trouble, leaving the Wizards without his shooting, rebounding and defensive ability. But it wasn’t Paul George giving the Wizards problems early, but rather Stephenson, who scored 11 points to pace Indiana after averaging just 10 points in the five prior games. The Pacers guard used physical play to push past Bradley Beal and get to the rim for easy buckets. Things didn’t come so easy for the Wizards, who shot just 41 percent, including 1-for-7 from three-point land. Indiana’s defense kept the Wizards from getting out in transition and finding openings to the lane, making it a grind for the Wizards to create plays in the halfcourt. They went nearly five minutes without a field goal in the second quarter.
What to Watch for in the Second Half: The Wizards must find a way to generate offense outside of John Wall dribbling around, trying to find open space or teammates because Indiana’s defense isn’t biting. Defensively, either Beal must do a better job or the Wizards need to give him help in guarding Stephenson, who’s been active and getting to the bucket with ease. The same could be said for Roy Hibbert, who has nine points. If recent history is any indication, when he gets going, the Pacers thrive.
It was fun while it lasted. With one minute to play and Wiz down double-digits, ESPN’s commentators have started talking about the Wizards’ plans for next season.
Another disappointing night for home team at Verizon Center. #gonefishing
— Scott Jackson (@JacksonSports) May 16, 2014
Yo, fans: don’t leave, please. Give this group a round of applause when this ends. They deserve it.
— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) May 16, 2014
The Wizards missed another great opportunity to cut into the lead after David West missed a short jumper. Bradley Beal had a wide-open look at a three-pointer in transition but missed everything. Wizards trail, 85-76, with two minutes to play.
The Wizards managed to get the margin below double figures entering the final period, but John Wall settled for a three-point attempt to close the third quarter. Wall had been getting to the rim consistently before that after halftime, helping Washington dig out of a 12-point halftime deficit. An off-balance three-pointer was far from the best decision with a chance to get within six.