September 19, 2020

Washington Wizards Second Round Game 6 Review: Pierce’s shot late, Wizards eliminated

PAUL PIERCE’S 3 AT THE BUZZER WAIVED OFF, WIZARDS KNOCKED OUT IN SECOND ROUND AGAIN

The Washington Wizards reverted back to their gloomy regular season days when they blew a double-digit lead in Game 5 in the fourth quarter. Instead of being one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals, the Wizards were one loss away from the offseason. John Wall returned during Game 5 and after taking multiple slaps to his injured wrist during the game, he promised to try to improve his game by knocking off rust in Game 6.

Wall looked fine, and the Wizards were poised to go to overtime when Paul Pierce’s last-second 3-pointer from the corner swished through to tie the game. But upon review, the ball did not get out of Pierce’s hand until after the clock showed 0:00, and the Wizards fell to the Atlanta Hawks 94-91, eliminated them from the playoffs in the second round for the second year in a row.

The Wizards have had a lot of trouble staying with the opponent in the first quarter during the playoffs. That continued Friday as the Wizards got off to a cold start offensively. Coupled with the inability of grabbing defensive rebounds, allowing five offensive rebounds for the Hawks, and the Wizards gave up an 8-0 run. After going down by eight points, Randy Wittman made a surprise move by inserting in Kevin Seraphin in for Marcin Gortat. The Wizards promptly went on a 4-0 run because of strong screens set by the French big man. Seraphin hit a baby hook to beat the buzzer and cap off a 13-4 Wizards run, resulting in a slight 20-19 advantage after one quarter.

Early in the quarter, the Wizards continued to have trouble rebounding on the defensive end as a team. That led to the Hawks hitting back-to-back 3-point field goals that forced Wittman’s second timeout. The bench energy got the crowd going as Otto Porter and Kevin Seraphin combined for four offensive rebounds in one trip and the Wizards finished it with a bucket. Kevin Seraphin led his team in scoring midway through the quarter, giving Wittman much needed bench production. The Hawks were not getting much production from anyone except Paul Millsap who produced a difference making 15 points. With the Hawks grabbing 12 offensive rebounds, they ended the half on a 6-0 run that gave them a 45-39 lead at halftime.

The Wizards did not play with the energy you would expect from a team on the brink of elimination. The Wizards allowed the Hawks to open the half on a 12-4 run putting them in a 14-point hole. After Wittman called timeout, the Wizards trimmed the deficit to 10 and had a chance to cut it to single digits, but Wall could not convert in transition and Jeff Teague scored five consecutive points. When all seemed lost, the Wizards went on a 7-0 run in 51 seconds that had the Verizon Center chanting Otto Porter after a thunderous dunk. The Hawks had timely 3-pointers from Teague and Muscala, while the Wizards could not catch a break from beyond the arc where they shot just 1 of 6 in the quarter. Although the game was still in reach at 72-64 Hawks going into the fourth quarter, the Wizards looked as if they needed an energy boost.

The fast and furious pace of the fourth quarter started early as the Hawks and Wizards traded buckets. However, the Wizards could ill afford to allow the Hawks to score at ease as they did to start the quarter. The Wizards cut the deficit to six on multiple occasions but the Hawks were getting to the paint at will.

When the Wizards started to pick up the intensity on defense they went on a 7-0 run and cut the deficit to a single point with 4:23 remaining. The Wizards took a one point lead on a Bradley Beal jumper, but subsequently went cold from the field. Atlanta took advantage and regained the lead on scores from Millsap and Carroll. With yet another back door cut, the Hawks got another layup to put them up four. The Wizards fought hard to get a chance at the end to tie the game with a 3-pointer, but Paul Pierce’s presumable clutch 3 was waived off as he did not get the shot off in time. Such was the heartbreak to DC to end yet another sports team season.

Why the Wizards Lost:

  • Inability to close out another close game late. The Wizards had come all the way back to go up by a point, but gave up too many easy layup opportunities to let the Hawks seal the deal.
  • 3-point shooting was another weakness for the Wizards again as they were just 4 of 18 from beyond the arc. Although one shot could have made all the difference, in the end the Wizards could not convert from three.
  • Besides the strong play from the dynamic backcourt, the Wizards got just 11 points of production from their front court leading to limited playing time for Gortat, Pierce, and Nene. It should be noted that Gortat seemed to have food poisoning resulting in him vomiting earlier in the day weakening him to the point where he could not play anymore.

Unfortunately, the Wizards 35-year Eastern Conference Finals appearance drought is going to continue until at least next year. Nobody saw this performance in the playoffs coming in back-to-back years, especially after the dismal performances after the All-Star break. It is not yet known if Paul Pierce will hang it up or fulfill his contract that has a player option through next season. The Truth commented that he would have to discuss the matter with his family and see how his body responds from a grueling 92 game season, but the emergence of Otto Porter and the addition of Ramon Sessions help fill the gap. With the probability that all essential members of the current Wizards roster will return and the addition of a late first round pick, Washington is still primed for contention next season.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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