When you look at the Washington Wizards it is easy to see a “team of the future”. The backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal are both very young and still have a lot of improving to do. However this team appears to want to take the future and turn it into the present. Beal had 14 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter as the Wizards withstood several comeback attempts in their 102-96 win over the number 1 seeded Pacers.
While the Wizards will be looking to build around their young backcourt, the remainder of the roster is a nice mix of youth and veterans. Trevor Ariza contributed on the offensive end with 22 points and spent most of the game defending Paul George who went an atrocious 4-17 from the field. Veteran forward Nene is having resurgence in the playoffs after battling injuries in the regular season; he finished with 15 points and 6 rebounds. Center Marcin Gortat had 12 points and 15 rebounds and has shown that he can score in a variety of ways. Wall finished with 13 points to go with 5 rebounds and 9 assists. Beal and Ariza would be easy picks for the MVP of the game however it would also be easy to pick veteran forward Drew Gooden who had 12 points and 13 rebounds while only playing 18 minutes. He was a late season signing that has made a big impact. The Wizards are now 4-0 on the road in these playoffs.
The Pacers looked awful for stretches against the Hawks in the first round. The Wizards are a much better team and if the Indiana does not pick up their play they will find themselves home for the summer. Roy Hibbert made arguably the biggest impact on the team’s playoff run last season. He was a dominant defender around the rim while also being good for some points scored on the low block as well. His stats for game one consisted of 0 points, 0 rebounds, 2 turnovers, and 5 fouls in 18 minutes of playing time. George had a miserable night shooting from the field and couldn’t get himself going. David West was one of the few Pacers to show up ready to play, he had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Point guard George Hill played well with 18 points. Lance Stephenson had 12 points on 4-13 shooting while grabbing 6 rebounds. Backup big man Luis Scola had 12 points and 5 rebounds.
The obvious key adjustment for the Pacers will be to figure out what they are doing with Hibbert. They either need to get him going or sit him down. Their best bet may have to be with playing Scola or perhaps sharpshooting big man Chris Copeland more. The Pacers have found themselves down in this position in the playoffs already and have shown they can come back. It remains to be seen if they will be able to slow down what is a young and hungry Wizards team.
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