Back and forth we go in the weird playoffs the Indiana Pacers are having. Losing at home by 23 points (102-79) to the Washington Wizards seems to be something of a low point. Marcin Gortat destroyed anyone, including Roy Hibbert, standing in his path, helping his team staying alive with a game 5 win to make it a 2-3 series, taking it back to D.C.
The most telling stat in this game? The Wizards outrebounded the Pacers 62-23. Washington grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, 7 of them by Gortat himself. The Polish center made up for a very weak night from Nene to finish with a huge 31 points and 16 rebounds. Roy Hibbert? He’ll be probably getting the wrong kind of attention again after scoring only 4 points, grabbing 2 rebounds and looking anything but intimidating in the paint, getting scored on at every opportunity.
The key in this game was pace and staying with the hot hand. The Wizards used only one bench player for non-garbage time minutes and that was Drew Gooden. He didn’t score, but he didn’t seem to get in the way like Nene. The rest was about John Wall and Bradley Beal constantly pushing this team. Early on they didn’t make open shots, but teams that get good opportunites, get easy stops and keep staying in transition usually find a way to score.
Wall himself finally had an efficient performance. He scored 27 points on 11-of-20 from the field. He outscored the Pacers on his own during the third quarter (17-14). Randy Wittman kept talking about keeping the foot on the gas, as the Pacers simply couldn’t get anything going while the game was a running one, taking away their biggest advantage over almost everyone in the league, which happens to be their half court defense.
Embarrassing, humiliating, you pick the word. The Pacers shot 39% from the field and didn’t seem like a team desperate to finish off the series. While the Wizards missed open shots early on, the Pacers hardly managed to get any. As much as dominating boards has to do with adjustments and player awareness, the feeling coming out of this game, as Pacers fans showed with their reactions in the third quarter and later on, is that the Pacers simply didn’t try as hard as they should.