Prior to tonight’s game, Roy Hibbert was going through an unexplainable collapse during the NBA Playoffs, but that might have came to an end tonight. Hibbert, who failed to score or grab a rebound in Game 1, was assertive right out of the gate, looking for shots on post ups very early on. The Indiana Pacers fed Hibbert inside, trying to get him going, and it worked. Washington led at halftime despite Hibbert’s 17 points at the break, but their inability to keep pace and get anything going offensively eventually came back to hurt them. Like many other Wizards fans, I was fine with Hibbert scoring the ball, as long as it was out of Paul George‘s hands. With that said, Washington failed to execute down the stretch and Hibbert has his way down low. He finished the game with 28 points and 9 rebounds.
Marcin Gortat has been solid all season long, but he really played well tonight, especially when the guards were struggling to score. He scored 21 points to go along side 11 rebounds, including multiple emphatic dunks that helped swing the momentum to Washington’s side. Nene scored 14 points as well, but he was taken out of his rhythm after going down with a sprained ankle in the first quarter. Luckily, he was able to return, but couldn’t help Washington get over the hump.
While Washington’s bigs were both very solid, their guards left much to be desired. John Wall was very bad tonight, to put it bluntly. I thought he did a pretty good job at facilitating, but he passed up on way too many open shots at the rim, just to kick the ball out to his shooters, which struggled to knock down shots. Trevor Ariza scored 6 points on 2-8 shooting, and Beal made just 2 of his 6 three point tries. Besides that, Beal was OK overall, putting up 17 points and 7 assists, but came up short late in the game with a few crucial turnovers. Wall hasn’t shot the ball well during the playoffs and his struggles continued tonight as he made just 2 of his 13 attempts, but he has to be more aggressive with the ball at the basket. He passed up on at least 5+ layup opportunities, just to kick the ball out to the perimeter, which obviously didn’t work. When his jump shot isn’t falling, and it obviously isn’t, he has to get to the basket. It’s really that simple.
I didn’t expect Washington to get four straight wins against Indiana, but I thought they dropped a very winnable game on the road tonight. The Wizards got to the free throw line just 12 times, but made 5. That has to change if Washington wants to continue their run in the postseason. Missing free throws, especially early in the game, eventually comes back to bite Washington and it did tonight.
The Wizards did get one win on the road, which was probably their goal in the first place, but they have to take care of home court beginning on Friday. It should be a good one.