WASHINGTON WIZARDS (49-39)
at INDIANA PACERS (60-30)
NBA Playoffs - Eastern Conference Semifinals
Game 2 - Washington leads series 1-0
Tip-off: Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Indiana -4, Total: 185
The sizzling-hot Wizards look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead over the top-seeded Pacers when the clubs meet in Wednesday's Game 2.
Washington improved to 9-1 (SU and AS) in its past 10 games when it upset Indiana 102-96 in the opener of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Monday night. The Wizards dominated the boards with a 53-36 rebounding advantage over the Pacers, including 17-6 on the offensive glass, and shot lights-out from behind the arc, draining 10-of-16 threes (63%). Washington got great offensive balance with six players netting at least 12 points, while Indiana shot only 40.7% FG and had no player score more than 18 points. The Wizards' win on Monday snapped a 12-game SU losing skid (3-7-2 ATS) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The previous two visits this season were both blowouts, with the Pacers prevailing 93-73 on Nov. 29 and 93-66 on Jan. 10. Washington has been an excellent road team this season at 26-19 SU (30-15 ATS), including 22-11 ATS (67%) as a road underdog. This club has also thrived with little rest this season, going 39-27-1 ATS (59%) with 0-to-1 days off in between games. While Indiana is a strong 37-9 SU at home this season, they are just 23-22-1 ATS in these games, and they have also been subpar with little rest, going 27-40 ATS (40%) with less than two off-days before a game. Two other betting trends to consider are that the Wizards are a phenomenal 11-1 ATS on the road when playing six or less games in a 14-day span this season, and Indiana is 0-12 ATS versus good ball-handling teams (14 or less TOPG) in the second half of this season. But not all is bleak for the Pacers, who are 21-8 SU (15-13-1 ATS) after an SU loss this season, and all NBA favorites that play good defense (41.5% to 43.5% FG allowed) against a poor defense (45.5% to 47.5%), after three straight games allowing a shooting percentage of 42% or less are 70-41 ATS (63%) since 1996. There are no significant injuries for Washington, while Indiana remains without backup C Andrew Bynum (knee).
Although the Wizards have shot just 43.9% on two-point FG tries in the postseason, they have drained 42.3% threes. This outstanding long-range shooting is a product of great teamwork, with the club dishing out 20.8 APG and turning the ball over only 11.5 times per game. Washington's team defense has also been strong in the playoffs, where it has limited opponents to an NBA-low 91.0 PPG on 42.0% FG, while also compiling 8.0 SPG and 6.8 BPG. SG Bradley Beal (20.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.7 SPG in playoffs) opened this series with a bang, scoring a game-high 25 points with seven rebounds, seven assists and five steals. Beal made 8-of-18 shots (44%), which was quite an improvement from his 8-of-31 shooting (26%) versus the Pacers during the regular season. While Beal was the team's best all-around player, backcourt mate PG John Wall (17.8 PPG, 7.2 APG, 4.7 RPG, 2.0 SPG in playoffs) did an excellent job of controlling the offense with nine assists, one turnover and a game-high rating of +19. Those numbers made up for Wall's poor shooting night (4-of-14 FG), dropping him to a dismal 12-of-43 FG (28%) in three games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season. SF Trevor Ariza (16.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.2 SPG in playoffs) had no trouble with his shot in this arena, as he drained 7-of-10 FG, including a perfect 6-for-6 from three-point range. This upped Ariza's postseason shooting numbers to an impressive 52% FG and 56% threes. The rest of Washington's frontcourt also played well with C Marcin Gortat (11.0 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.2 BPG in playoffs) posting a double-double (12 points, 15 boards) and PF Nene Hilario (17.2 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.4 SPG in playoffs) contributing 15 points, six rebounds and a +18 rating. This duo also combined for five blocked shots and took Roy Hibbert completely out of the game. PF Drew Gooden (2.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG in 10.8 MPG in playoffs) was also spectacular off the bench with 12 points and 13 rebounds (7 offensive) in just 18 minutes of action. As long as the Wizards continue to share the basketball (23 assists on 35 field goals in Game 1), and attack the glass, they have a great chance at pulling off another upset in Game 2.
Indiana's offense wasn't a juggernaut during the regular season (96.7 PPG on 44.9% FG and 35.7% threes), and it hasn't been good in the playoffs either with 93.8 PPG on 44.4% FG (37.3% threes). Turnovers have also caused problems in the postseason (14.6 TO per game), but the defense has carried the club by holding opponents to 93.6 PPG on a meager 38.9% FG (36.2% threes). SF Paul George (23.1 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 4.6 APG, 2.3 SPG in playoffs) had been averaging 26.0 PPG and 10.3 RPG in his previous four games, but the Wizards really made him work for his points on Monday, as George, who shot 33% FG during the regular-season versus Washington, finished with 18 points on 4-of-17 FG. Although George did have six rebounds and five assists, he finished the game with a horrible minus-13 rating. The only player with a worse rating than George was All-Star C Roy Hibbert (4.6 PPG on 36% FG, 3.3 RPG, 1.4 BPG in playoffs), who continues to crush his team's chances of a deep playoff run. In 18 uninspiring minutes in Game 1, Hibbert had zero points (0-for-2 FG), zero rebounds, two blocks, two turnovers, five fouls and a hideous minus-17 rating. If Hibbert continues to give the Pacers nothing, they are in serious trouble. PF David West (13.6 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.5 BPG, 1.1 SPG in playoffs) helped pick up the slack for Hibbert with 12 rebounds (3 offensive) and a team-best +11 rating to go along with 15 points (6-of-15 FG). PG George Hill (13.6 PPG, 3.6 APG, 3.6 RPG in playoffs) was the only Indiana starter to make more than 40% of his field goals on Monday, as he scored 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting. But Hill dished out only one assist in his 33 minutes of action and was outplayed by opposing point guard John Wall. SG Lance Stephenson (15.0 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.9 APG in playoffs) had his moments in Game 1 with 12 points, six boards, two steals and a +9 rating, but he also turned the ball over four times and made only 4-of-13 FG. The Pacers' bench played pretty well in the series opener, combining for 33 points on 13-of-23 FG (57%). PF Luis Scola (8.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG in playoffs) and PG C.J. Watson (8.3 PPG, 1.4 SPG in playoffs) were the main contributors with 12 points (6-of-11 FG), and nine points (3-of-5 FG), respectively.