WASHINGTON WIZARDS (49-42)
at INDIANA PACERS (63-30)
NBA Playoffs - Eastern Conference Semifinals
Game 5 - Indiana leads series 3-1
Tip-off: Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Indiana -5, Total: 181
The Pacers try to move onto the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday when they return home to seek a fourth straight win over the reeling Wizards.
Washington has gone ice-cold since scoring 102 points in its Game 1 victory, averaging only 79.0 PPG on 41% FG and 27% threes over three straight defeats, with the latest loss coming by a 95-92 score in Sunday's Game 4. For the second straight game, Indiana started slow and finished strong. In those two games combined, the club has a weak 72 first-half points, but 108 points after the intermission. Now the Wizards have to win on the road to extend this series, but they have played very well away from home this season, going 26-20 SU (31-15 ATS). This includes a stellar 12-1 ATS road mark when playing six or less games in a 14-day span. Although the Pacers are difficult to defeat at home (38-9 SU record), they are an even 23-23-1 ATS at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. In this particular series over the past three seasons, Indiana is 11-3 SU overall, but just 6-8 ATS. This includes a 6-1 SU mark (but 2-5 ATS record) when they have met at this particular venue. The Pacers are also 45-32 ATS (58%) as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points over the past two seasons.
The Wizards continue to misfire in this series where they've made only 43.1% of their two-point FG tries, 35.3% threes and 63.9% free throws. But Washington's team defense has been excellent in the playoffs, where it has limited opponents to a mere 90.2 PPG on 42.6% FG. SG Bradley Beal (19.5 PPG, 5.3 APG, 5.0 APG, 2.8 SPG in series) has had a great series, and led the team with 20 points (7-of-14 FG) in Sunday's loss. Beal scored 21.0 PPG on 15-of-33 FG (46%) in the first two games in Indiana, and needs to provide another 20+ points for his struggling offense. Backcourt mate PG John Wall (11.5 PPG, 7.5 APG, 1.3 BPG in series) did a great job of controlling the offense in the two games at Indiana with 17 assists and only two turnovers in the first two games, but he has dished out only 13 assists with 12 turnovers in the past two contests. He has also shot terribly all series at 31% FG and 1-of-11 threes. If Wall can't find his offense fast, this series will end on Tuesday night. SF Trevor Ariza (14.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.3 SPG in series) had another strong showing in Game 4 with 16 points, nine boards and three steals, but posted a game-worst rating of minus-22. The rest of Washington's frontcourt has underachieved badly in the past two defeats, as C Marcin Gortat (9.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.0 BPG in series) and PF Nene Hilario (11.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.8 BPG in series) combined for only 24 points (11-of-38 FG, 29%) and 19 rebounds, which was a huge drop-off from their 35 points (17-of-29 FG, 59%) and 16 boards in Game 2 alone. The Wizards finally got strong production from their bench in Game 4 as C Al Harrington (6.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG in series) compiled 11 points, six rebounds and three steals, PF Drew Gooden (7.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG in series) chipped in 10 points four rebounds and three blocks, and PG Andre Miller (4.5 PPG in series) had seven points, four assists and a game-high-tying +18 rating.
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 this series with 90.5 PPG on 43.0% FG, but has saved itself with great long-range shooting (43.9% threes). The defense continues to carry the club to the brink of the conference finals by holding opponents to a meager 89.6 PPG on 39.6% FG during the playoffs. SF Paul George (22.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, 2.0 SPG in series) had made just 33% FG and 25% threes in the first three games versus the Wizards, but he exploded in Game 4 with 39 points on 12-of-20 FG (7-of-10 threes), 12 rebounds and two steals. C Roy Hibbert (14.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.3 BPG in series) began this conference semifinals with a Game 1 dud (0 points, 0 rebounds, minus-17 rating), but has been outstanding in the past three victories with 19.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.3 BPG and +47 rating. PF David West (12.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 4.0 APG in series) continues to give his team consistent production in all areas, and has posted a stellar +63 rating in this series, including a +15 on Sunday when he scored 14 points with a game-high eight assists, but only three rebounds, for the second straight contests. PG George Hill (14.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.3 APG in series) played very well in Game 4 with 15 points (6-of-12 FG), four assists and only one turnover while posting a team-best +18 rating. SG Lance Stephenson (10.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 4.5 APG in series) had another poor shooting night on Wednesday (3-of-8 FG), and is now 14-of-46 FG (30%) in this series. But he again contributed in other areas with nine rebounds, six assists and a +15 rating despite six turnovers. Indiana's bench was a non-factor in Game 4 with just two points (1-of-9 FG), five turnovers and a minus-49 rating in a combined 33 minutes of action.