The Washington Wizards waltzed into Indiana and defeated the Pacers 102-96 in convincing fashion as the Eastern Conference semifinals kicked off Monday. Here are three takeaways from the Wizards fourth road win of the postseason.
1. Playoff Bradley Beal is a real thing.
Bradley Beal has been superb in hist first six postseason games of his career. He is averaging 20.7 points per game on 48.1 percent from 3-point land in those games. I was one to knock Beal often in the regular season for taking too many long 2s and not attacking the basket enough and while he is still susceptible to those things from time to time in the postseason so far, he has been really impressive. And Monday night his effort was monumental in the Wizards stealing Game 1.
Beal played an all-around great game. He scored 25 points and added seven rebounds, seven assists, and five steals. He was the best player on the court the entire night. He hit timely shots and his activity on defense bothered Lance Stephenson. Beal looks like a 10-year veteran so far in this year’s playoffs and has made a real name for himself.
2. Roy Hibbert may be a non-factor in this series
Hibbert struggled immensely in the latter half of the regular season and even more so in the first-round series against the Atlanta hawks, but to be fair, the Hawks five-man out system was a tough matchup for him. He was thought to be able to have an impact, at least defensively, in this series because the Wizards play two big men at all times. However, if Monday night’s game is any indication of what to come from Hibbert, he will not be a factor in this series. He played just more than 17 minutes and did not score a single point or record a rebound. Hibbert experienced foul trouble throughout the game and it got to the point where I was mad when the foul was called on him because I would rather him have stayed in the game. Yeah, that’s not a good sign.
3. The Wizards are best when everyone is involved
Beal scored 25. John Wall scored 13. Trevor Ariza scored 22. Marcin Gortat scored 12. Nene scored 15. Drew Gooden scored 12. That is a balanced attack. Even when Ariza and Beal got hot, neither really tried to force anything. Wall was getting everyone involved and the Wizards made the league’s best defense look suspect at times. The Wizards need it like that the rest of the series.