After taking care of the Chicago Bulls in five games, the Washington Wizards have been resting up in the nation’s capital, waiting for the Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta Hawks series to wrap up. The number one seeded Pacers were expected to beat the Hawks without much resistance, but needless to say, that didn’t happen. Behind Roy Hibbert‘s uncharacteristic collapse and Atlanta’s hot shooting, the Hawks were able to push the Pacers to 7 games, but unfortunately weren’t able to close the series.
Led by Paul George, the Pacers got a double-digit victory over the Hawks in Game 7 and will now take on the Washington Wizards in the semi finals, which begins on Monday.
Despite being the first seed in the Eastern Conference, I’d be shocked if the Wizards weren’t favored against the Pacers in the series. Indiana hasn’t played good basketball in months and were ultimately pushed to seven games by the worst team in the NBA Playoffs–Atlanta Hawks. Without Al Horford the Atlanta Hawks were forced to play without a legitimate center, and though playing Pero Antic helped space the floor, the Hawks struggled to score inside and relied on 3-point shooting for much of their success.
Washington has played their best basketball during the postseason, and with three road wins against the Bulls, home court advantage for the Pacers might honestly not mean much. The Wizards are heading into the series with confidence, while the Pacers struggled to beat the worst team in the playoffs. Both the Bulls and Pacers rely on their defense, but struggle to score the ball, and Washington didn’t seem to have an issue putting the ball through the hoop against Chicago.
Now, I’m not guaranteeing a Wizards Eastern Conference Finals berth, but it’s not something that should be ruled out. Indiana struggled to defend Jeff Teague and I have no doubt that they’ll have trouble guarding John Wall and Bradley Beal.
On the flip side, Indiana beat the Wizards 2 out of 3 times during the regular season, but lost by 13 points late in March after they began collapsing around All-Star break. Simply put, the Pacers team that beat Washington twice is a different Pacers team that is in the playoffs.
Washington will now turn their focus to Indiana. Round 2. Monday.