The Washington Wizards find themselves in a hole as they travel to Indiana for Game 5 against the Pacers Tuesday. After a convincing Game 1 win over the No. 1-seeded Pacers, the Wizards have dropped three in a row to the Pacers and might be the enjoying the rest of the summer earlier than they would want to.
The math says this series is pretty much over. The team with home-court advantage being up 3-1 wins the series 96.3 percent (211-8) of the time, according to whowins.com. That doesn’t bode well for this Wizards team that has crumbled these last three games and brought back the hashtag #SoWizards after we all thought we had moved on.
But we never did. It felt good while it lasted, but I think the numbers usually tell the story and I think they will again in this series.
I started to get the feeling after Game 3 when the Wizards scored 63 points and were embarrassed on their home floor. It was a bad loss, but it also looked like the Pacers were beginning to find their identity again. Roy Hibbert played another good game in Game 3 after scoring 28 points in Game 2 and Paul George is looking like the player we all thought he was going to be early in the season. He has been fantastic on both ends of the floor lately.
The thing is, event with the Pacers looking much better than they have lately, the Wizards had great chances in Games 2 and 4 to come away with victories. In Game 2, a Bradley Beal 3-pointer with 11 seconds made it a two-point game and in Game 4 they were up by 19 in the second half. This series could easily be a 3-1 lead for the Wizards, but it is not. And that is demoralizing and can bury a team. I think the Wizards are buried.
John Wall has been the brunt of much of the criticism and rightfully so. He has played his worst basketball of the season at the worst time. The Wizards need Wall, but he looks rattled and lacks confidence. He is shooting 31.7 percent from the floor and is 1-of-11 from deep (9 percent) for the series while also committing 12 turnovers combined in the last two games. Wall also passed up a wide open 3 late in Game 4 that could have tied the game. I get why he passed it to Bradley Beal (who missed a contested 3), but I want to see the franchise point guard step up and shoot that basketball with confidence. Again, I get why he passed and I get he has been struggling shooting the basketball, but I wanted him to take that shot because I want my best player playing with confidence late in a playoff game. Wall has got to be in a different mode come Tuesday if the Wizards want to extend this series.
With all that said, Wall is not the only player to blame. He’s the team’s best player, so he is going to get most of the criticism. That’s what comes with a max deal. However, Marcin Gortat these last two games has been nowhere to be found. He scored a combined six points in the last two games on 30 percent shooting. In Game 4, he only played 21 minutes. His inability to be effective led to Al Harrington and Drew Gooden playing more minutes than they should. While the two were effective at times, Gortat’s inability to have an effect on the game forced he Wizards to play some funky lineups at times because of Gortat’s disappearance. It hurt the Wizards in the end. He didn’t play a single minute for the Wizards in the fourth quarter. Not one minute. The Wizards gave up a lot to get Gortat from Phoenix this offseason (Emeka Okafor‘s expiring deal and a first-round pick) to win now and if he can’t get a single fourth-quarter minute in a must-win Game 4 then that’s a problem. The Wizards are going to throw a decent amount of money at Gortat this upcoming offseason, but I remain skeptical because Al Harrington and Drew Gooden played 10 minutes each in the fourth quarter Sunday.
Side Note: Wittman went with that duo way too long. Nene only played three minutes in the fourth quarter. That was a mistake.
This series is done. The only hope for optimism is how close the Wizards have been barring game three. Who knows, maybe there is a little Wizards magic in the air.