The Washington Wizards were on the brink of elimination, but behind Marcin Gortat and John Wall‘s efforts, they managed to take Game 5 by a large margin and will return home to face the Indiana Pacers. Game 6 will tip off at 8:00pm EST and will be broadcasted on ESPN from the Verizon Center.
Pressure bursts pipes, but it can also make diamonds.
After a 102-79 blowout victory in Game 5, the Wizards return home trailing Indiana 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
On the heels of a 19-point collapse at home, the Wizards turned in what may have been their best performance of the postseason. It was certainly Marcin Gortat’s best game, as he poured in 31 points on 13-15 shooting and grabbed 16 rebounds. John Wall was also fantastic, playing as aggressive as we have seen him, shooting out of his slump with 27 points on 11-20 from the field.
It didn’t seem like the Wizards were playing an elimination game because the real pressure was on Indiana to complete their return to form and close out the series in five games. Washington was playing with house money. They played freely and as hard as we have seen them play all series. However, now that the Wizards have forced a Game 6 at home, the pressure and expectations are mounting on Washington.
1979 was the last time the pro basketball team in Washington won a second-round playoff game at home. In this series alone, the Wizards got blown out in Game 3 and had the aforementioned 19-point collapse in game 4 at home. Even in round 1, Washington’s lone loss to Chicago was at home.
Washington has been unable to protect home court all season, posting the same regular season record both home and away. Even when the Verizon Center is rocking as loud as Oklahoma City or Portland, the Wizards just can’t seem to get it done on their home floor.
Obviously every game is now a must-win as Washington is on the brink of elimination, but I think this is a must-win for the Wizards fans who pile into the Verizon Center and lose their voices cheering on this team. It’s about time the Wizards protect their home court and give fans a reason to party in Chinatown, rather than ride the metro home in silence.
So on Thursday night when the decibel level is through the Verizon Center roof, the pressure will be on the Wizards to play well, win their first second-round home game since 1979 and force a game 7. Let’s hope the Wizards are up to the task and can turn the pressure into diamonds.