May 5, 2014, 10:38 PM EDT
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.
Oct 23, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Bulls center had knee surgery this offseason
Oct 23, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT
Cavaliers show up Grizzlies
Oct 23, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Heat coach attempting to win first playoff series without LeBron James
Oct 23, 2014, 2:22 AM EDT
The Knicks still run some isolation.
Kobe Bryant on Julius Randle playing with Kobe, for Byron Scott: ‘If you f— this up, you’re a really big idiot’
Oct 23, 2014, 12:15 AM EDT
Lakers star likes dropping I bombs
Oct 22, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT
No charges have been filed.
Oct 22, 2014, 10:20 PM EDT
J Crossover up close and personal.
Oct 22, 2014, 9:20 PM EDT
Rockets downgraded Parsons, but he’ll have a chance to reach new heights with Mavericks
Oct 22, 2014, 8:20 PM EDT
Lakers forward also says he’s quit drinking alcohol
Oct 22, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT
Stephen Curry takes advantage
Oct 22, 2014, 6:21 PM EDT
Phil Jackson has spoken to the media more than the previous three GMs ever did, I think.
Oct 22, 2014, 5:16 PM EDT
“ We still have roughly a third of our teams that are not profitable under the current system, despite revenue sharing.” —Adam Silver
Oct 22, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
Oddest vote of the survey — 10.7 percent of GMs thought Chicago had a better offseason than Cleveland.
Jeff Van Gundy: Confusing a system (like the Triangle Offense) with reason for success is ‘a huge mistake’
Oct 22, 2014, 3:42 PM EDT
Van Gundy says players are responsible for wins and losses, not systems — like the one Phil Jackson is bringing to the Knicks this season.
Oct 22, 2014, 2:58 PM EDT
This could be the year a big man breaks the string of guards winning the award.
Oct 22, 2014, 2:13 PM EDT
Pierce played 15 years for the Celtics, but is now with his second new team in as many seasons with the Wizards.
Oct 22, 2014, 1:29 PM EDT
Boston is hoping to get an asset in return for Bynum instead of simply waiving him.
Oct 22, 2014, 12:48 PM EDT
Oct 22, 2014, 12:04 PM EDT
There are plenty more interesting tidbits in the league’s annual survey.
Oct 22, 2014, 11:23 AM EDT
It may come up again, but for one more season at least Philadelphia’s uber-tanking system will pay dividends.
- Five top candidates for NBA Rookie of the Year 18
- NBA GMs surveyed predict LeBron will win MVP, Spurs will repeat as champions 27
- Owners vote down NBA Draft lottery reform, system to stay same for this season 45
- ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 preview: Houston Rockets 24
- Kobe Bryant responds to ESPN article with basically a shrug (VIDEO) 20
- Paul George refutes report he didn’t want to play with Kobe Bryant: ‘Media reaching again’ 22
- PBT Extra preview: Lakers, Celtics big name teams headed to lottery 12
- Could lottery reform be bad for small market teams? Sam Presti argues yes. 23