After gaining a 2-0 series lead against the Chicago Bulls, the Washington Wizards had a chance to close out the series at home with a sweep. Well, needless to say that didn’t happen.
Washington failed to beat the Bulls at the Verizon Center last night in their first home playoff game since 2008, but their loss was overshadowed by a scuffle that occurred between Nene and Jimmy Butler in the fourth quarter.
Both Nene and Butler engaged in a shoving match, which then escalated to Nene “headbutting” Butler and grabbing the back of his head/neck. He was immediately ejected.
The Wizards failed to beat Chicago in Nene’s absence during the regular season and couldn’t beat them last night after he was ejected. If the Wizards want to gain a significant advantage in the series, they’re going to have to find a way to win without Nene, since he’ll be suspended for Game 4.
Randy Wittman has shortened his rotation a bit during the playoffs, but that will have to change in Game 4. Al Harrington and Drew Gooden haven’t seen much time on the court, but I expect both players to get an extended amount of minutes tomorrow night.
The Wizards are going to have to find a way to replace Nene’s production, and though they don’t have one player who could do so, they do have a number of players that could potentially fill the void. Drew Gooden and Al Harrington have had prior success against Chicago, and Kevin Seraphin has even had big games against the Bulls in the past.
Washington has to take care of home court tomorrow night and it’s certainly disappointing that Nene let his temper get the best of him. He was visibly frustrated throughout the entire game, which is uncharacteristic for Nene, who’s usually composed in those sort of situations.
It’ll be interesting to see how Washington plays without Nene, but it’s no secret that they’ll rely on John Wall and Bradley Beal for the majority of their success, especially on the offensive side of the floor. How will the Wizards respond? I guess we’ll just have to see.