NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Monday, May 5th
(All times Eastern)
(5) Washington Wizards (0-0) at (1) Indiana Pacers (0-0), 7:00 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals jumps up
Monday night when the Indiana Pacers host the Washington Wizards at Bankers
The top-seeded Pacers advanced after a tough seven-game series against the
Atlanta Hawks in the opening round. Washington, the fifth seed in the East,
moved on with a five-game series victory over the Chicago Bulls.
Paul George led the Pacers to victory Saturday night. He had 30 points and 11
rebounds, shot 11-for-23 from the field and was lucky just to be on the floor
for the decisive game.
George took a few steps onto the court during a skirmish between teammate
George Hill and the Hawks' Mike Scott in Game 6. Traditionally, that has
warranted a suspension, but a slight change in the language of the rule
probably kept George from missing the critical contest.
"This was a long series," said the Indiana All-Star. "We're happy to get over
this hump and get ready for the next task, which is preparing for the
Roy Hibbert, the Pacers' other All-Star this season, had his best game of the
series on Saturday. He played sparingly in the later games of the series, but
scored 13 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked five shots in Game 7.
"You always feel for guys on your team that are struggling," said Pacers coach
Frank Vogel. "You do what you can to push them or encourage them, challenge
them when they need to. It's like your family, it's like your children. You
want the best for them. (It was) very gratifying to stay with him and then to
see him step up the way he did."
The Wizards have been home since Tuesday, which is a pretty long wait for a
group that doesn't have a ton of postseason experience.
"It is what it is," said Washington coach Randy Wittman. "Whether you like
rest, or whether you want to keep going, we don't have a choice."
The Wizards held the Bulls to an average of 90 points a game while being led
by their dynamic young backcourt of All-Star John Wall and sharp-shooter
Against Chicago, the league's best defensive unit in terms of scoring, Wall
averaged 18.8 points and 6.8 assists. Beal led the Wizards with 19.8 points on
45 percent shooting from long range.
"The main thing is to focus in and know what this team is capable of," said
Wall after dispatching the Bulls.
Defense is Indiana's calling card. The Pacers finished second in the NBA in
opponents' scoring during the regular season and first in opponents' field-
The Wizards weren't shabby on the defensive side of the ball either. They tied
for eighth in the league in fewest points allowed and actually rank first in
that category so far during the postseason.
The two teams have never met in the postseason and Indiana has owned this
series in recent history. The Pacers won two of three this season against
Washington, both at home, but the dominance extends far past the 2013-14
campaign. Indiana has won 11 of the last 13 matchups and 15 of the last 19.
The Wizards won't be intimidated playing in Indiana, despite being winless in
their last 12 trips there, a span dating back to April 2007. Washington took
all three road contests in the series against the Bulls.
Game 2 will be Wednesday night in Indianapolis.
05/05 10:35:29 ET