The Indiana Pacers are a really, really good team and the Washington Wizards learned that the hard way tonight.
After staying competitive in the first half, Washington’s shooting woes eventually caught up to them and the Pacers went on to dominate in the third and fourth quarters. Indiana is really good at making other teams play scrappy basketball and it usually plays into their advantage. Washington isn’t built to play a grinding game, especially since a lot of their success comes from perimeter shooting. John Wall, who struggled mightily against the Pacers earlier in the season, made just 4 of his 15 shot attempts. Wall had a tendency to settle for shots, but the Pacers did a great job at closing the lanes, making it virtually impossible for him to drive to the basket. Indiana is the most disciplined defensive team in the NBA and John Wall just couldn’t get his shot to fall tonight. That’s no coincidence.
To make matters worse for Washington’s backcourt, Bradley Beal made just 6 of his 18 shots from the field. Beal’s shooting has been up and down this season, but he really needs to learn when to pick his spots. Beal’s shot selection was horrific tonight and he didn’t seem to mind settling for ridiculous deep two point shots either. Someone needs to sit Bradley Beal down and show him the difference between a good two point shot and a bad one, because it’s getting pretty frustrating to watch him consistently settle for bad shots. Wizards owner, Ted Leonsis, has made it clear that he doesn’t want the team to settle for long two point shots in several blog posts, so it’s ironic that the team has consistently taken these shots.
Washington shot a miserable 32 percent from the field (!!!), but they didn’t make their free throws either. They made just 9 of their 23 free throw attempts. THAT’S REALLY BAD. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever seen two professional basketball teams struggle that much with their free throws. Indiana also made just 59 percent of their free throws, but the difference is obviously drastic.
Let’s just pretend that game never happened. As expected, Washington’s big men struggled against Roy Hibbert (who knocked down a spot up 3-point shot from the corner, by the way) and David West, but they’ll have a chance to turn it around tomorrow night at home against the Houston Rockets. The Wizards were absolutely atrocious tonight, but I wouldn’t expect them to repeat that performance anytime soon. Indiana is really, really good and it basically comes down to that.