INDIANA PACERS (61-30)
at WASHINGTON WIZARDS (49-40)
NBA Playoffs - Eastern Conference Semifinals
Game 3 - Series tied 1-1
Tip-off: Friday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Washington -4, Total: 184
After a much-needed win on Wednesday to even up their playoff series, the Pacers will try to build off that momentum when they visit the Wizards in Friday's Game 3.
Indiana was able to impose its will in Game 2, holding Washington to 82 points in large part because it outscored its opponent 18-5 from the foul line. Much-maligned C Roy Hibbert was the player of the game with 28 points, nine boards, two blocks and a game-high +16 rating. Now the Pacers go back on the road where they are a pedestrian 23-21 SU (19-25 ATS), and try to improve upon a weak 27-41 ATS mark (40%) with less than two days' rest this season. Despite Wednesday's loss, the Wizards still managed to cover the spread to improve to 10-1 ATS in the past 11 games, including 6-1 ATS in the postseason. Although they have been a subpar home team this season at 23-20 SU and 17-24-2 ATS, they are an excellent 40-27-1 ATS (60%) with 0-to-1 day of rest, and are a strong 22-16-1 ATS (58%) after an SU loss. Over the past three seasons, Indiana is 9-3 SU in the nation's capital, but Washington holds the 8-4 ATS advantage in these dozen meetings. Although the Pacers are 3-15 ATS (17%) when facing a winning team in the second half of this season, they are also 19-11 ATS (63%) as a road underdog of 3.5 to 6 points in the past three seasons. Washington is mildly concerned with SG Bradley Beal's ankle injury, but he is expected to start on Friday, while Indiana remains without backup C Andrew Bynum (knee).
Indiana's offense wasn't very effective during the regular season (96.7 PPG on 44.9% FG and 35.7% threes), and it has been even worse in the playoffs with 92.9 PPG on 44.4% FG (37.1% threes). Turnovers have also caused problems in the postseason (13.9 TO per game), but it committed only eight miscues in Game 2. The defense continues to carry the club by holding opponents to 92.3 PPG on a meager 39.6%. SF Paul George (21.8 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 4.6 APG, 2.2 SPG in playoffs) carried his team in the first round, but he has had a rough series offensively with only 14.5 PPG on 30% FG and 1-of-8 threes, but he does have 6.0 RPG, 4.5 APG and 1.5 SPG in the two games. C Roy Hibbert (7.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.4 BPG in playoffs) finally lived up to his All-Star status with a monster Game 2 with 28 points (10-of-13 FG, 8-of-8 FT), nine boards, two blocks and a +16 rating. This was quite an improvement from the series opener when he had zero points (0-for-2 FG), zero rebounds, two blocks, two turnovers, five fouls and a hideous minus-17 rating. PF David West (13.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.3 BPG in playoffs) didn't play particularly well in Game 2 with nine points and six boards, but has posted a +21 rating so far this series. PG George Hill (13.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.6 APG in playoffs) has scored 16.0 PPG on 12-of-23 shooting so far this series, but has dished out only four assists in the two games. SG Lance Stephenson (14.7 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.1 APG in playoffs) had another poor shooting night on Wednesday (3-of-12 FG), and is now 7-of-25 FG (28%) in this series. However, he's contributing in other areas with 6.5 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.5 SPG and a +17 rating.
Although the Wizards have shot just 45.1% on two-point FG tries and 68.4% FT (5-of-12 in Game 2) in the postseason, they have drained 39.0% threes. This outstanding long-range shooting is a product of great teamwork, with the club dishing out 20.7 APG and turning the ball over only 11.3 times per game. Washington's team defense has also been strong in the playoffs, where it has limited opponents to an NBA-low 90.3 PPG on 42.3% FG, while also compiling 7.6 SPG and 6.3 BPG. SG Bradley Beal (20.1 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 5.0 APG, 1.7 SPG in playoffs) has opened this series on fire, scoring 21.0 PPG on 15-of-33 FG (46%), which is a substantial improvement from his 8-of-31 shooting (26%) versus the Pacers during the regular season. While Beal has been the team's best all-around player, backcourt mate PG John Wall (16.1 PPG, 7.3 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.9 SPG in playoffs) has done an excellent job of controlling the offense with 17 assists and only two turnovers in the two games. But he's still shooting horribly this series (6-for-27 FG, 22%) and he will need to heat up quickly in a matchup that should remain low-scoring. SF Trevor Ariza (15.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.3 SPG in playoffs) had no trouble with his shot in Game 1, as he drained 7-of-10 FG, including a perfect 6-for-6 from three-point range. But Wednesday was a completely different story, as he was held to six points on 2-of-8 FG (2-of-7 threes). The rest of Washington's frontcourt played well though, with C Marcin Gortat (12.4 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 1.9 BPG in playoffs) posting a second straight double-double (21 points, 11 rebounds) to give him 16.5 PPG and 13.0 RPG for the series. PF Nene Hilario (16.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.2 SPG in playoffs) contributed 15 points, six rebounds and a +18 rating in Game 1, and had similar numbers in Game 2 with 14 points and five boards, but posted a game-low rating of minus-14. No Wizards reserve contributed more than six points or four rebounds on Wednesday.