May 5, 2014, 10:38 PM EST
Frank Vogel called one timeout and then another.
His Indiana Pacers were getting battered by the upstart Washington Wizards, and not even eight minutes in, he was running out of possible solutions.
At that point, the Pacers had twice as many of their shots blocked (six) as had gone through the hoop (three). And that’s when Indiana could even get off a shot. The symmetrically out-of-sync Pacers had five turnovers, each starter with one.
Can an underdog end a series in Game 1? The Wizards, crushing the East’s No. 1 seed, seemed on the verge.
Well, this won’t be that quick a quick knockout. The Pacers eventually got off the mat and even landed a few punch-drunk right hooks late, but that’s about all they did.
The Wizards took Game 1 102-96 Monday, and if they didn’t take the series in one night, they at least positioned themselves as unquestioned favorites.
So this series won’t be easy for Washington? The Wizards hadn’t won a second-round game since 1982. This isn’t supposed to be easy.
Even if it looked that way early.
Washington jumped to an 8-0 lead, fell asleep a bit and then expanded its lead to 16 points. The Pacers led for 15 seconds the entire game, a possession in the second quarter. Otherwise, until the closing minutes, the Wizards cruised with a steady onslaught of quality play:
- Bradley Beal (25 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and five steals) was the game’s best two-way player.
- Trevor Ariza made all six of his 3-point attempts to score 22 points
- Drew Gooden (12 points and 13 rebounds in 18 minutes) was everywhere, especially wherever the ball was headed off the offensive glass.
- John Wall (13 points, nine assists, one turnover and two blocks) controlled Washington’s offense and played excellent transition defense.
- Marcin Gortat (12 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks) fortified the middle.
- Nene (15 points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks) made solid contributions on both ends.
That’s way too much for Indiana – at least this Indiana – to overcome. The Pacers barely beat the 38-44 Hawks. How are they going to get competitive with Washington?
Due to Roy Hibbert (zero points, zero rebounds, five fouls and two turnovers in 18 minutes) more than anyone, the Pacers’ starting lineup – a mainstay among the NBA’s best over the last two years – has lost its effectiveness. That unit was outscored by eight points in 12 minutes Monday.
Vogel is left mixing and matching whatever starters haven’t self-destructed with C.J. Watson, Luis Scola and Chris Copeland to form cohesive lineups. That scattered approach can work – Indiana went on a late 7-1 run before George Hill made 3-pointers on three of the Pacers’ final four possessions – but it’s tough to win a game, let alone a series, that way.
Especially against the feisty Wizards.
Washington’s ability to win anywhere puts even more pressure on the Pacers. The Wizards opened round one in Chicago and didn’t settle for a single win, coming home with a 2-0 series lead. There’s no reason to believe they can’t do the same in Game 2 Wednesday.
Already possessing four road wins in these playoffs, Washington has shown a resiliency becoming of a conference finalist. In the last eight years, all 21 teams with four road wins in a postseason reached the conference finals.
Lady Gaga? The Wizards might not need to worry.
They didn’t end this series in one. But four? That’s still on the table.
Dec 26, 2014, 2:56 AM EST
The flagrant fouls and ejections we’ve come to expect from these teams were non-existent, as L.A. came away with a “signature win” over the league-leading Warriors.
Dec 25, 2014, 11:48 PM EST
The Bulls blew out the Lakers on Christmas.
Dec 25, 2014, 11:31 PM EST
Wade was brilliant… for a half, anyway. But that was enough.
Dec 25, 2014, 10:16 PM EST
Dec 25, 2014, 9:24 PM EST
Bryant misses his second straight game simply due to a need for rest.
Dec 25, 2014, 6:46 PM EST
With Kevin Durant out, Westbrook puts Oklahoma City on his back, elevates Steven Adams and helps produce 114-106 victory
Dec 25, 2014, 6:10 PM EST
Scott Brooks: Kevin Durant ‘could not go if he wanted to go’
Dec 25, 2014, 4:15 PM EST
Washington was never threatened after the first quarter.
Dec 25, 2014, 2:46 PM EST
A multiple game suspension is following.
Dec 25, 2014, 2:00 PM EST
Well, it’s a pretty easy goal to reach.
Dec 25, 2014, 12:30 PM EST
Kevin Durant would not start as of right now, but expect that to change once he starts playing again.
Dec 25, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
Howard and Smith were AAU teammates.
PBT Christmas Day preview: Late game between Clippers and Warriors will see league’s best rivalry renewed
Dec 25, 2014, 9:30 AM EST
These teams do not like each other.
Dec 25, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
And at No. 1… come on, isn’t it pretty obvious?
Dec 25, 2014, 2:13 AM EST
This will be his fourth game missed with a sprained ankle, they are 1-2 without him the last three.
Dec 24, 2014, 11:00 PM EST
The Wizards are an underrated team in the East. The Knicks… not so much.
Dec 24, 2014, 9:30 PM EST
Previewing the Bulls vs. Lakers matchup at the United Center.
Dec 24, 2014, 9:00 PM EST
Colorways inspired by shoes Michael Jordan wore during his best Christmas Day performance.
Spurs and Thunder, who’ve been best in the West lately, both fighting for position entering Christmas matchup
Dec 24, 2014, 7:00 PM EST
Injuries to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard have put both teams behind the eight ball
Dec 24, 2014, 6:06 PM EST
An additional confirmation that no Deron Williams deal gets done on Sacramento’s side unless they can also get the talented young big man as part of the package.
- Clippers win ‘nice, boring’ Christmas Day battle with Warriors 0
- Miami fans give LeBron warm welcome, Heat team not so much in upset win 6
- Russell Westbrook inspires Thunder to skid-stopping win over Spurs 8
- LeBron James, Stephen Curry leading in early All-Star voting returns 16
- PBT Christmas Day preview: Late game between Clippers and Warriors will see league’s best rivalry renewed 1
- PBT Extra: Top 5 NBA stories of 2014 0
- Five things to watch as NBA takes over Christmas Day 16
- Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao tears Achilles, done for season 30