The Washington Wizards had an excellent first round, surprising virtually everyone by beating the Chicago Bulls and doing it in just five games. However, the Wizards were far from perfect this series and will definitely have to improve against more talented teams such as Indiana and Miami. Here are the 3 best and worst parts of the series for the Wizards.
Best: Hot Shooting
Nene had an incredible series, knocking down mid range jumper after mid range jumper. Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah had no answer for him, as Nene thoroughly outplayed him on both ends of the floor. Trevor Ariza lit up the Bulls for 6 three pointers in Game 4, and for the series, was a red hot 46.4% from three for the series. Bradley Beal upped his scoring average to 19.8 ppg for the series on an improved 44% shooting from the field and 45.5% from three. Countless times throughout the series, Beal made clutch shots when the Wizards needed them most, not only on jump shots but also on strong penetrating moves into the lane.
Worst: Nene’s Temper
In Washington’s first home playoff game in 6 years, Nene was ejected for grabbing Jimmy Butler by the neck, a clear overreaction from the Brazilian big man. Luckily, his suspension didn’t cost the Wizards, but moving forward the Wizards will need a focused Nene to help Wall lead the team.
Best: Trevor Ariza’s Defense
Ariza was stellar on defense all series long. When D.J. Augustin was torching the Wizards in Game 1, Ariza took on the assignment in the 4th quarter and blanketed him. After Mike Dunleavy shocked the Wizards for 35 points in Game 3, Ariza was the primary force in limiting him to just 6 points in Game 4. Ariza has proven time and time again that he is an elite perimeter defender, and his defense was a big reason why the Wizards took the series.
Worst: John Wall’s Shot Selection
John Wall had a solid series overall, managing the floor well, limiting his turnovers, and creating opportunities for his teammates. However, his shot selection left a lot to be desired. He shot just 36.4% for the series, despite having a clear talent advantage over Hinrich and Augustine. His jumper wasn’t falling all series, so I would have liked him to attack the basket more mainly due to his ability to draw and finish through contact.
Best: Randy Wittman’s Coaching
Many Wizards fans have felt that Wittman has held the team back with his poor rotations and inability to develop good looks at the basket in crunch time. However, in this series, he thoroughly outcoached one of the best coaches in the business, Tom Thibodeau. Specifically, he sat his best player in Wall for an extended period to let Andre Miller continue abusing Augustin in the post in Game 1. Also, his creativity in using Ariza to defend the hot hand was an excellent adjustment, as the Bulls were forced to find other ways to generate offense, mostly unsuccessfully.
Worst: Reserve Bigs
Trevor Booker had a strong series overall, as he rebounded well and provided energy off the bench as usual. In his lone start in Game 4, he had trouble containing Taj Gibson, who was the beneficiary of some questionable refereeing. Al Harrington and Drew Gooden played sparingly in the series, but when given the opportunity in Game 4, they were no match for Gibson. I’d like to see a little more fire and energy from the veteran bigs.