The Washington Wizards failed to protect home court on Friday night, but they’ll have a chance to get their third playoff win on Sunday against the Chicago Bulls. The game will tip off at 1:00pm EST from the Verizon Center. It will be broadcasted on ABC.
- The Wizards will be without Nene, who was suspended for headbutting/putting his hands around Jimmy Butler in the fourth quarter. Randy Wittman will have to get creative with his lineups, which might force him to play some small ball to get some offense.
- John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 48 points in Game 3 on Friday. Both players have played well throughout the series, but they’ll have to contribute even more in Nene’s absence. John Wall was especially aggressive right from the start and he needs to continue looking for his shot.
- Washington’s bench combined for just 10 points. Trevor Booker, Drew Gooden and Al Harrington will obviously be asked to step up, but Andre Miller and Martell Webster also have to find a way to get involved, just as they did in the first two games.
Key Match Up:
The Wizards have gained a reputation for having unexpected players drop big numbers on them and that unfortunately continued in the playoffs. Mike Dunleavy, who struggled in the first two games of the series, scored 35 points while knocking down 8 of his 10 three point opportunities. Granted, some of the shots he made were difficult, but the Wizards can’t allow Dunleavy to get going like he did in Game 3.
Dunleavy was defended by Bradley Beal, who’s guarantee that Dunleavy wouldn’t score in the second half was spoiled very quickly, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Wittman gives Trevor Ariza the defensive assignment. Ariza takes defense personally, and even though Beal is a solid defender, Ariza is Washington’s best perimeter defender and he’s more than capable of shutting him down.
The Bulls wouldn’t have had a chance if Dunleavy didn’t go bananas, but I think it’s safe to say he won’t have another 35 point performance in the series. The Wizards have to take care of home court and Sunday night’s game could be considered a ‘must win’.