NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, May 13th (All times Eastern)
(5) Washington Wizards (1-3) at (1) Indiana Pacers (3-1), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Indiana Pacers can eliminate the Washington Wizards Tuesday night when Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series shifts back to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
The Pacers are on the threshold of a conference finals appearance thanks to sweeping both road games in Washington over the weekend. Indiana demolished the Wiz in Game 3, then gutted out a tough, 95-92 win Sunday in Game 4.
The Wizards were seemingly on their way to evening this Eastern Conference semifinal series when they led by 19 early in the third quarter, but Paul George and the often-maligned Roy Hibbert combined for 43 points in the second half to put Washington on the brink of elimination.
Twenty-eight of those points came from George, who made big basket after big basket and even grabbed 12 rebounds for the Pacers.
"I was just in a rhythm and it carried out through the whole game," said George, who connected on 12-of-20 from the field. "I was able to knock some shots down."
Hibbert finished with 17 points and nine rebounds and made a huge turnaround hook shot with 62 seconds remaining to give the Pacers a 94-91 lead.
After a series of empty possessions, Bradley Beal and George Hill traded 1- for-2 showings at the foul line, as Hill's miss with 6.8 seconds remaining gave Washington one chance to force overtime.
The Wizards, however, never got a shot off.
Trevor Ariza threw away the ensuing inbounds pass, and Washington fell into a 3-1 deficit.
"I'm not blaming any of this on any youth or inexperience or who has been in the playoffs and who hasn't," Wizards head coach Randy Wittman said of the letdown. "That's just an excuse."
George finished with 39 points. Ever since the zero-point, zero-rebound debacle of Game 1, Hibbert, an All-Star this season, is averaging 19.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game.
"He's getting his mojo back. We're just going to continue to keep him confident because when he performs and plays well, we're a better team," said Indiana forward David West.
Hill netted 15 in the win and West tallied 14.
The Pacers were given off from practice on Monday since all five starters played over 37 minutes. George saw 46:23 of game action and didn't sit in the second half.
Beal led a balanced Wizards attack in Game 4 with 20 points. Ariza managed 16, followed by 12 out of John Wall, 11 from veteran Al Harrington and 10 apiece out of Nene and Drew Gooden.
Washington faces an elimination game for the first time this postseason. They ripped through the Chicago Bulls in the first round, but now have to win on the road to extend their season.
"We've got to go back to Indy, we've got to get one game. Then we'll worry about Game 6 after Game 5," said Wittman. "Three of the four games have been a dogfight and we're in the fight, now we've just got to win that fight."
And the Pacers aren't thinking about clinching a berth in the conference finals for the second consecutive season. They are trying to remain focused on Tuesday.
"We got to win Game 5. That's our only mindset," said head coach Frank Vogel.
If necessary, Game 6 would be Thursday night in Washington.
05/13 10:23:39 ET