May 7, 2015

Washington Wizards Second Round Game 2 Review: Wizards fall without Wall as series with Hawks is tied 1-1

The Washington Wizards are ridiculously good on the road come playoff time. In the past two seasons the Wizards are 8-1 coming into Game 2 at Atlanta. To give some semblance of how extraordinary that is, the Spurs have the next best record of 7-7 in the category over the same stretch.

But without their floor general, John Wall, who was a late scratch because of his swollen left wrist, the Wizards had to find help from other role players to step up. Although Ramon Sessions filled in admirably with a post season career high 21 points, the Hawks pulled away late to drop the Wizards 106-90.

Atlanta came out aggressive on both sides of the ball as they attacked the rim and trapped Wizards players. The Wizards started shooting the ball a cold 3 of 11 from the floor and had three turnovers. That allowed the Hawks to go on a seven-point run to take a 13-7 lead and force coach Randy Wittman to call an early timeout in yet another playoff game. With the Hawks running the pick and roll to perfection they started the game 10 of 18 from the field and had a comfortable 28-20 lead after the first quarter. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Second Round Game 1 Review: Wizards come back to take Game 1 against Hawks

The Washington Wizards have not played a game since clinching their first franchise sweep against the Toronto Raptors last Sunday at home. On the flip side, the Atlanta Hawks just finished a grueling series against the Brooklyn Nets who put up a good fight. The Wizards looked rusty early, but rebounded from a 12-point second half deficit to rally for a 104-98 Game 1 win on the road.

The Eastern Conference No. 1 seed Hawks advanced to the second round by making double-digit 3-point field goals in all but one game. The Hawks opened up the first half with nine 3-pointers and a career best performance from DeMarre Carroll as the Wizards might have been run out of the building.

It was the Paul Pierce show early as he chipped in with seven of the Wizards first nine points. However, the defense started to falter because of the rapid ball movement from Atlanta leading to a 9-0 Hawks, which prompted a timeout from coach Randy Wittman.

With 5:41 remaining in the first quarter, Pierce picked up his second foul and Wittman reacted by inserting Otto Porter and Drew Gooden in the game. The two bench stars for the Wizards quickly responded with an 8-0 run that helped the Wizards tie the game at 20. From their things went downhill as the Hawks went on a 7-0 run that was later extended out to a 17-6 stretch. The hot shooting behind the arc (5 of 8) gave the Hawks a 37-26 lead after the first quarter.

The Wizards came out in the second quarter with a better defensive presence forcing multiple turnovers against the Hawks bench. The Hawks also fell short in maintaining their 60-plus percent shooting from the floor with a mediocre 2 of 9 from the field to start the quarter. However, before the Wizards could pick up the offense to creep back into things, the Hawks and DeMarre Carroll started to heat up again.

Then things turned potentially tragic as, after picking off a pass and attacking the rim, John Wall fell hard out of bounds. Luckily, although in pain, Wall was able to return to the game, but Atlanta didn’t slow its pace. The Hawks found themselves up 63-53 at halftime behind Carroll’s career high for a half 21 points on nine shots.

After a poor defensive effort to start the series, the Hawks helped the Wizards in the second half by shooting a cold 1 of 8 from the field. With an 8-2 run to start the quarter, the Wizards were within four points and forced an Atlanta timeout. However, the No. 1 seed did not go quietly,  responding with a 7-0 run to stretch the Wizards deficit back out to double digits. In a game of runs the Wizards responded with an 8-0 run to get within a single point because they were digging in on defense. Even though Paul Pierce and Drew Gooden picked up their fourth fouls, the Wizards went into the fourth quarter only down 83-81.

Atlanta had another slow start to a quarter as they missed their first five shots from the field in the fourth. That allowed the Wizards take a 87-83 lead as Bradley Beal went into attack mode. Unfortunately, Beal later landed on Al Horford’s foot coming down from a jumper attempt and had to sit after writhing in pain on the floor. Beal went to the locker room and did not return. The Hawks didn’t go away and had the Wizards lead cut to one on two separate occasions, but John Wall would not be denied as he hit multiple mid-range jumpers to keep the Hawks at bay. In the end, layups from Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat off dimes from John Wall locked up a Wizards win 104-98.

Why the Wizards Won:

  • Defense! Similarly to how the Toronto Raptors came out with hot starts in the first quarter, the Wizards gave up 37 points in the first quarter and 63 overall in the first half. They locked in and allowed the Hawks to only score 35 points in the second half. The rotation and effort in the half court set was amazing to see and the Hawks lost their shooting stroke that was on fire early.
  • The dynamic duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal both withstood somewhat serious injuries. Wall says they each fought through like soldiers to finish the game with combined stats of 46 points, 14 assists, 14 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals, and only 3 turnovers.
  • Otto Porter has continued his growth. With Nene struggling to defend the Hawks stretch four and not getting things going offensively, Porter played 34 minutes and produced 10 points and 11 rebounds. Porter had a dagger layup after hitting a crucial three point attempts moments before.

The Wizards are the first team in NBA history to win four consecutive Game 1’s on the road. Again the Wizards will put huge pressure on the home team to secure Game 2 before heading on the road where the DC fans will be pumped. If you take out DeMarre Carrol’s streaky and somewhat uncommon performance from the first half, the Wizards dominated this game. If they can dig in on defense like they have in the second half, which Wittman will preach, the Wizards should be able to again return to the Verizon Center with a 2-0 series lead.

Washington Wizards Game 4 Review: Wizards complete sweep of Raptors with win at home

FIRST SEVEN-GAME SERIES SWEEP IN FRANCHISE HISTORY

The Washington Wizards lost all three regular season meetings against the Toronto Raptors, but as Paul Pierce has said “it’s a new season” when the Wizards found themselves going into Game 4 at home already up 3-0. Entering play, the Wizards had played 36 playoff series with zero best-of-five or best-of-seven sweeps. Leading the game from start to finish with a balance scoring attack, the Wizards ended that streak, completing a sweep behind a sellout crowd with a 125-94 win over Toronto.

DC is certainly rising.

Two minutes in and the energy and pace of the game was in the Wizards favor, up 4-2 as John  Wall was serenaded with MVP chants. Washington was methodical in their offensive approach as they got to the line for nine free throw attempts within the first six minutes while shooting 3 of 5 from the field. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game 3 Review: Wizards take decisive 3-0 lead on Raptors

The Washington Wizards are road warriors. They are the first team in NBA history to have back-to-back seasons where they won the first two of their playoff games on the road to open the season. The Chicago Bulls were the victims last year. Returning home to an extra excited home crowd did wonders for the Wizards. After the Capitals heated up the ice that the Wizards play on top of last night with a 5-1 blowout of the New York Islanders to take a 3-2 series lead, the Wizards continued the momentum at Verizon center by taking an impressive 3-0 series lead with a 106-99 victory.

This game got off to a quick start offensively for both teams. After the Wizards were getting a lot of production from Marcin Gortat, who did a nice job moving with the ball, and Bradley Beal who had it going from beyond the arc. The Raptors kept pace with a hot start from DeMar DeRozan who was 5 of 6 from the field for 12 points that later fueled a 10-2 run to give Toronto a 23-16 lead midway through the quarter. The hot shooting continued as the Raptors had a lead as great as nine before Drew Gooden came in to provide reinforcements by knocking down back-to-back triples. The Wizards were doing a good job sharing the ball early as evidenced by their 10 assists on their first 10 made field goals. DeRozan had 20 points nine minutes into the game and that led to the Raptors having a small 35-33 lead going into the second quarter.

The second quarter was a more physical grinding style of play. Just three minutes into the quarter the Wizards drew five fouls and grabbed three offensive rebounds. The tempo and scoring scored down with both team’s second units in, but the Wizards slowly began to chip away as their defense picked up. On a Wall drive midway through the quarter the Verizon Center erupted at 111.9 dB because the Wizards took a 43-42 lead. The field goal percentages plummeted for both teams in the second quarter, Raptors shot 25 percent and the Wizards shot 30 percent. Eventually the Wizards went back to the pick and roll between Wall and Gortat that led to a 6-0 run at the end of the half that gave Washington a 54-48 lead at intermission.

The Wizards came out of the halftime a bit sluggish; however, this was not their fault as it seemed every call was going against them early leading to an inefficient offensive game plan. The Wizards knack to get to the free throw line kept their offense afloat, but the Raptors were able to take a 68-67 lead for a short period of time. On the last Wizards offensive sequence, Wall was finally able to get to the rim on his attack where he converted leading to the Wizards taking a 72-70 lead into the final quarter.

The Wizards started the quarter with back to back turnovers and back-to-back fouls, allowing the Raptors to take a 73-72 lead. Wall grabbed the next defensive rebound and had a determined look on his face as he drove through a double team, spun, took the contact and completed an old fashioned three point play. The Raptors closed to within one after consecutive buckets and Wittman pulled the trigger to get Paul Pierce back in the game. Moments later Pierce declined the extra pass on the perimeter and drilled a shot beyond the arc. Late in the game when the Wizards were reeling they got more clutch shots: twice from Otto Porter who was shooting the ball with confidence and not to be out done, The Truth came through with one of his own putting the Wizards up 98-90. After Lowry had cut the Wizards lead to three, Pierce came back with a dagger three to end this game at 106-99.

Why the Wizards Won:

  • The Wizards were an unselfish group tonight. They might have struggled offensively but shared the ball well as they had 27 assists on their 36 made field goals. Of course this effort was led by Wall who had 15.
  • The Wizards defense stepped up after a dreadful first quarter that saw DeRozan go for a Raptors franchise record 20 points. They only allowed 64 points the rest of the game and had an astounding 13 blocks stemming from their strong rotation on defense.
  • The Wizards won the transition battle as they had a 20-9 edge in fast break scoring.

The Wizards have another home game Sunday night where they look to end the series for good and have a nice rest before having to start the second round presumably in Atlanta to face the first seeded Hawks. If the Wizards cannot take care of business without returning home, Paul Pierce and the rest of his teammates will unfortunately have to go through customs when returning to Air Canada Center in Toronto for Game 5. No team in the NBA playoffs have come back to win a seven game series when starting down 3-0, and the Wizards will look to keep it that way.

Washington Wizards Game 84 Review: Wizards take commanding 2-0 series lead over Raptors

After the Wizards secured a victory in Game 1 to take over home court advantage, Paul Pierce and the Wizards were not content returning home with the series tied and wanted to push the Toronto Raptors on the brink of their playoff lives. Similarly to Game 1, the Wizards made a run midway through the second quarter and led the rest of the way. After two separate second half pushes from the Raptors, the Wizards prevailed 117-106 and hold a commanding 2-0 lead in the first series of the playoffs.

From the opening tip the Wizards were in trouble to start the game. They struggled from the field by starting 1 of 7, while DeMar DeRozan had himself a quick seven points. When Terrance Ross hit a 3 to put the Raptors up 12-2, coach Randy Wittman was forced to call timeout less than four minutes in the game. The offense began to wake up as the Wizards went on a stretch where they were 6 of 10 from the field. The only problem for the Wizards were that the Raptors played their well-defined role of an efficient offensive team and continued to score steadily. Similarly to the last game the Wizards found themselves down after the first quarter, this time 31-26. [Read more…]

Washington Wizards Game 83 Review: Wizards take early series lead against Raptors in OT by avoiding late collapse

The Wizards entered the rowdy and loud Air Canada Centre that was extra amped for the series after Paul Pierce claimed the Raptors do not have an “it” player that can win a game. The Wizards finally took a lead midway through the second quarter once Paul Pierce caught on fire and were able to eventually hold a 15 point lead in the fourth quarter. Although the Raptors came back to force overtime behind hot three point shooting, the Wizards were victorious 93-86.

Both teams started the game cold offensively as at the midway point in the first quarter the Wizards were shooting 2-12 and the Raptors 2-9. While missing open jump shots, the Wizards only found themselves down 7-5 With Marcin Gortat on the bench after picking up two early fouls, Nene began to exert himself after taking passive jump shots to start the game. Late in the quarter he had already tallied 6 points and 7 rebounds. With the Raptors starting to make their jump shots the Wizards trailed 23-19 at the end of one.

The Wizards struggle offensively on jump shots carried over to the second unit. The struggle was epitomized when the Wizards had four opportunities to score on a single possession and ended up giving away a breakaway dunk because they could not hit a shot. Luckily for the Wizards, the Raptors could not stretch out their consistent lead to double digits leaving the door open for a comeback. As Wittman had advised Pierce earlier in the week about playing in the power forward position, The Truth rotated over with Nene on the bench. Offensively he caught on fire as the big men of the Raptors such as Hansbrough and Amir Johnson could not get out on him fast enough. Pierce hit four straight field goals to fuel a 9-0 Wizards run to secure Washington’s first lead of the game and starting the second half up 46-42.

Coming out of the half, the Wizards had a scare as Paul Pierce was on the floor in pain after being blindsided by a Valanciunas screen that Nene did not call out. Luckily for Washington, he was able to stay in the game and picked up where he left off by hitting two more jumpers. The Raptors kept things close as Valanciunas was able to secure two put back buckets. With Beal and Wall gaining confidence by being aggressive offensively, Washington has an 11 point lead, but Amir Johnson was unstoppable down low. After a chaotic, fast paced finish to the quarter, the Wizards took a 65-56 lead into the final quarter.

The Wizards put their foot on the gas to start the final quarter as they were attacking the basket and making more effort plays than the Raptors allowing them to stretch the lead to 15. Toronto would not go away though as they went on an 8-0 run as they began to be aggressive in the paint. The Raptors followed that run up with another 9-1 stretch featuring their newly found three point stroke from Lou Williams and cutting the Wizards lead to 2. Beal and Wall hit key shots to keep the Wizards offense afloat, but Grevis Vasquez hit a clutch three pointer late in the game to force overtime with the game tied at 82.

The overtime period started with the Wizards exerting their offensive rebounding dominance again as they got five second chance points from a Pierce three and Nene slam. With the Wizards doubling DeRozan late in the game, the Raptors were unable to make Washington pay for their aggressiveness. The stringent Washington defense held the Raptors to a cold 1-8 shooting in the OT period as they secured their Game 1 win by a 93-86 count.

Why the Wizards Won:

  • Defense. The Wizards held the Raptors to 19 and 14 points in the second and third quarter respectively. Then after a meltdown in the 4th, they did not allow the Raptors to score in overtime until there was only 30 seconds left in the game.
  • Dominance in the paint on the offensive side of the ball when both teams were shooting cold played a key role. The Wizards had 19 offensive rebounds to go along with 52 points in the paint.
  • The Raptors had six players make more than a 100 three pointers for them in the regular season but only had two made three point field goals before the fourth quarter started. The Raptors cold shooting is what allowed the Wizards to get out to such a big lead in the second half.

With another game in Toronto before returning home, the Wizards have many things they can adjust going forward. They should now be better adjusted to deal with the crowd noise, which could be correlated to their slow start. As we have been accustomed to seeing in the regular season a catastrophic collapse nearly occurred. If the Wizards are going to try and win this series they will need to find the “it” that will protect their late game leads. However, at the end of the day the Wizards won and have put a lot of pressure on the Raptors for Game 2.

Washington Wizards Game 80 Review: Wizards keep dim chances of home playoff series alive by beating the Hawks’ bench

After getting blown out from the beginning of the game against the Brooklyn Nets, the Washington Wizards returned home looking for some kind of rhythm heading into the post season. With the Atlanta Hawks resting all of their starters and coach Randy Wittman doing the exact opposite for the Wizards, Washington executed a sound game plan. Led by John Wall, who had not played in a week, the Wizards won 108-99 in their final home game of the regular season.

Both teams started sloppy to begin the game as there was not much flow to the game. The Wizards stated under shooting under 30 percent from the field, while the Hawks were not much better at 25 percent. The Wizards began to heat up from beyond the arc as on three consecutive possessions, Paul Pierce, Bradley Beal, and Pierce again knocked down jumpers. Continued strong offense allowed the Wizards to go on an extended 21-5 run. With hot shooting from the field to end the quarter, 10 of 13 including 5 of 7 from deep the Wizards secured a sizable 38-22 lead.

The Hawks bench, which included players who usually do not get extended minutes, were able to provide a bit of a spark for Atlanta as they opened the quarter on a 9-4 run. The Wizards bench fought back though and returned the game to the starters with a comfortable 14-point lead. The back and worth nature of the game continued for the Wizards as the tempo and physicality of the game began to pick up. With the game at this point currently in hand, Whitman was comfortable in giving Bradley Beal and Nene additional rest in favor of Otto Porter, Drew Gooden, and Kris Humphries. The Wizards dominated the first half with a 66-45 lead to show for it.

The third quarter was evenly matched in a fast paced style of play where the ball was being pushed in all scenarios. The Wizards obtained their largest lead of 25 on a Bradley Beal dunk that ignited the crowd. After Beal and Nene exited the game the Hawks were able to put a bit of a dent in the lead with the help of transition points and three point field goals. The Wizards still took a comfortable 90-75 lead going into their final quarter at home during the regular season.

Beal and Nene reentered the game to start the fourth quarter as they had done to start the second and they helped sustain the Wizards double digit lead. The back and forth nature continued but the Hawks kept it close enough such that Whitman did not feel comfortable to rest his starters as Wall reentered the game. The Hawks were able to cut their deficit to nine with plenty of time in the game and many feared to be witnessing another Wizards late game collapse. The clincher came when Wall picked off a lazy backcourt pass of the Hawks and slammed it home. The Wizards would hold on to win 108-99.

Why the Wizards Won:

  • Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer decided to give his starters a rest against a division foe. Although the Hawks had many role plays that received extended minutes today, defensively they could not keep up with Wall and company.
  • Like the Wizards are known for, Washington had balanced scoring contributions from all starters. Entering the fourth quarter all starters were in double digits in a crisp effort.
  • The Wizards thrive in transition where they can take advantage of their superior athleticism and speed. Fast break points are exactly where the Wizards won the game today as they held a 29-9 edge in the department.

The Wizards will finish up their last two games of the regular season on the road against the Pacers and Cavaliers. The Pacers are still trying to secure a playoff spot, which they are currently on the outside looking in, while the Cavaliers are locked into the two seed. Depending on the outcome of the Bulls game tomorrow, where a win will lock the Wizards into the fifth seed, the Wizards starters could see more time off in these final two games according to Whitman post game.

Washington Wizards Game 79 Review: Wizards diminish chances of home playoff series after being blown out by Nets

The Wizards came into the Barclays Center riding a four game win streak and sniffing out a chance to get back into the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference. With John Wall getting his second straight game off after playing in 208 consecutive games, the Wizards were dominated as the Nets won 117-80.

The Wizards early five point lead quickly disappeared as they became stagnantly inefficient without Wall as their floor general. Washington consistently were forced into difficult shots late in the shot clock or turned the ball over, which Brooklyn translated into 11 points. The Nets went on an 18-3 run early in the game and followed that up with an 11-4 run which featured Brook Lopez in the paint. Lopez hit 7 field goals and heavily contributed to the Nets 20 points in the paint leading to a 31-14 deficit after a quarter of play.

The second unit for the Wizards could not do much better as the Nets started out on a 10-2 run. After later being down as many as 27, the Wizards begin to take advantage of easy buckets before the Nets defense was set leading to a 13-2 run. After starting the game 0-5 from the field, Bradley Beal made his next six shots in a personal battle against defensive star Markel Brown. Unfortunately the Wizards were down 54-38 at halftime with the Nets continuing their hot shooting.

Bradley Beal started the third quarter with a couple clutch three pointers, which helped the Wizards cut the deficit to 10. The Nets were able to stretch the lead back up to 18, but behind the strong post presence from Marcin Gortat the Wizards chipped back away to a 10 point deficit again. Gortat was 9 of 10 from the field for 20 points through the first three quarters. The Wizards could not get the deficit to single digits as multiple calls went against them and they entered the final quarter needing to close a 75-62 gap.

The Nets started the quarter on a 13-0 run to put the Wizards out of the game for good. This run was extended to 20-1 as Washington saw themselves down points 32. Both Nene and Marcin Gortat were checked on by the medical trainers and would not return in the game although neither seems to be major. With a back and forth ending for the fourth quarter in a mini-game of bench players, the Wizards were glad when the game was over, losing 117-80.

Why the Wizards Lost:

  • The Wizards committed 21 turnovers that the Nets cashed into a whopping 38 points, a negative 27 point differential for Washington.
  • The Wizards got no scoring from individuals not named Beal or Gortat. The rest of the team combined for 13-52 shooting from the field and a measly 35 points.
  • The Nets shot the ball with incredible efficiency at a 50.6% mark from the field including 60% from beyond the arc.

The Wizards will welcome in the Atlanta Hawks in their regular season home finale with still a lot to play for. The Hawks have little to play for as they are locked into the #1 seed in the east and may decide to rest some marquee players. Even if the chances for the Wizards to have home court advantage in the first round are slim, it will be important for the Wizards to get something positive going before entering the post season.

Washington Wizards Game 76 Review: Wizards continue to take care of business against weak teams by beating Knicks

Two days removed from a thumping on the Philadelphia 76ers, the Wizards welcomed in an even worse team by record in the New York Knicks in their penultimate home regular season game. The Wizards took care of business trying to build momentum before going into the playoffs with a 101-87 win.

After taking 3 minutes to get their first bucket on 0-5 shooting, the Wizards started to exert their dominance over the weaker Knicks. Otto Porter and Drew Gooden both usually coming off the bench got the start tonight as Randy Whitman gave Paul Pierce and Nene the night off. Whether it was a coach’s intuition or just a coincidence, they were a big lift to the Wizards as they combined for 16 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, and four three pointers in the first quarter. Such execution led to a 19-0 run for the Wizards that gave them a 30-10 lead after the first quarter.

Although Quincy Acy began to make some shots for the Knicks, Ramon Sessions protected the big lead. Sessions opened the quarter with a steal and bucket, old fashioned three point play after a strong drive, and a pretty assist to Kevin Seraphin for an open hook shot. The Knicks were able to get within 11 as they were given many opportunities to get to the free throw line. After the Wizards starters pushed the lead back to 16 the Knicks were able to close the gap to 54-46 at halftime.

Bradley Beal started the half on a 5-0 run to stretch the Wizards lead back to double digits. Although the Knicks started to hit some shots from beyond the arc, the Wizards had consistent offense facilitated from the floor general John Wall. Marcin Gortat continued to have a strong game against the smaller Knicks lineup. Kris Humphries started to get involved in the offense after in his second game back from a prolonged injury. Going into the fourth quarter the Wizards held an 83-67 lead.

In the fourth quarter, Whitman decided to leave Bradley Beal in the game with the bench players to redevelop his shooting stroke after starting the game slow. Beal finished the half 6/10 from the field before earning a spot on the bench with the game in hand. In the end Whitman trusted his bench to hold on to the double digit lead and the Wizards finished their home stand with a 101-87 victory.

Why the Wizards Won:

  • John Wall had a career high 18 assists in a mere three quarters of play. Such a facilitating role got his teammates involved and allowed them to convert opportunities against a lesser defensive presence.
  • The Wizards won the battle in the paint in a dominant fashion. They outscored the Knicks 60-32 in the paint led by 9-13 shooting from Gortat.
  • The Wizards got out to an early 30-8 lead that diminished all hope that the Knicks young players thought they might have on the road.

The Wizards will be glad that they got to rest many of their players tonight as they have a quick 24 hour turnaround before traveling to Memphis to play a talented Grizzlies squad. In the last meeting between the two, the Grizzlies “disrespectfully”, according to John Wall, sat four of their five starters. The Wizards are unlikely to have such a luxury this time around as they will have to play a smart basketball to have any kind of a chance on the back end of a back to back game stretch in a hostile environment.

Washington Wizards Game 74 Review: Wizards struggle, fall to Rockets

Two days removed from a double overtime thrilling win over the Hornets, the Wizards welcomed in the Rockets along with MVP candidate James Harden. The woeful shooting from the field continued [Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: