May 9, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (4) dribbles the ball as Indiana Pacers power forward David West (21) defends during the first half in game three of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana Pacers lock-down Wizards to take 2-1 series lead


 

The word “lock-down” doesn’t do justice to what Indiana actually did to Washington in Game 3. The Wizards didn’t do themselves any favors offensively, but the Pacers got back to their ugly, slow, grind-it-out style and held the Wizards to 63 points in Game 3. Through the first 14 minutes, the Wizards had scored 22 points. The rest of the game, the Wizards only scored 41 points. Yikes. Remember the game is 48 minutes, so you can do the math.

In the series, the Pacers have held the Wizards to 20 less points than the game before in each game of the series. After allowing 102 points in Game 1, the Pacers gave up just 82 points in Game 2 and 63 points in Game 3. If this trend continues, by my calculation, Washington will score roughly 45 points in Game 4. (That’s a joke, by the way. You can laugh.)

The strange thing is Indiana isn’t doing anything vastly different in their defensive scheme. Washington is settling for more outside shots, which was a huge problem in the last few minutes of Game 2. Hibbert and West are making Nene and Gortat work much harder to get position in the block, and they are keeping Washington off the offensive glass.

Announcer Doris Burke made a great point in the middle of the third quarter. She said, “The Wizards just feel really young right now.”

It’s too true for fans of Washington. The Wizards have a very bright future, but John Wall and Bradley Beal aren’t there yet. They’re still learning and getting better, but they seem unsure at times. It appears Beal and Wall are hesitant to attack at times because of Indiana’s swarming help defense. Basically every time Wall or Beal drive, Indiana’s defense collapses and rotates. It’s hard to find open guys with the length of the Pacers getting hands in the passing lane or just being big and clogging up passing lanes.

Offensively, the Pacers still haven’t found that rhythm they had earlier in the season, but when you’re only giving up between 63 and 85 points per game, I guess you have a chance to win by default. It’s pretty embarrassing considering the Spurs have scored 65 and 70 points in the first half of the first two games of their series with the Trail Blazers. I don’t think the Spurs would have the same success against a good defensive team like Indiana, but still, the Eastern Conference, outside of Miami, is pretty awful.

On paper, the Wizards shouldn’t be this bad, though. I’ve been a “Fire Randy Wittman” supporter all season. There are so many good coaches available, and I can’t figure out why Wittman still has a job. To me, George Karl would be the perfect coach for Washington. They’d probably be the third best team in the East, if Karl were the coach and had them play the up-tempo style Karl used in Denver.

Obviously, Karl isn’t going to make a difference in this series, but the mere fact that I’m already thinking about what the Wizards should do after this series doesn’t bode well for the Wizards. This series changed dramatically in Game 3. The pressure is back on the Wizards now.

Hopefully, the Wizards can figure it out on offense to make this series go a few games longer, but it feels like Indiana took control. With the Pacers tough defense, I don’t know if Washington can match their toughness.

Washington threw the first punch in Game 1. The Pacers have countered with a haymaker and taken control of the series. We’ll see if Washington punches back.

 

 

Tags: 2014 NBA Playoffs Game 3 Indiana Pacers NBA Washington Wizards