The Indiana Pacers’ Game 7 win feels like a lifetime ago after they dropped another horrific performance at home to slip 1-0 down for the second time in these playoffs.
The Washington Wizards have matured before the eyes of the nation in the post-season, earning a solid series win over the Chicago Bulls and now taking a lead on the road against the number one seed.
It was again a story of defensive lapses and offensive malaise for the Pacers. Whenever Roy Hibbert or Ian Mahinmi took the floor, Indiana’s offensive production fell through the floor. Any time the Pacers tried to go small with Scola and West sharing the court, the defense was poked through like a flimsy paper bag.
Hibbert’s struggles continued, his 0-point, 0-rebound, 5-foul mess making this the third time in four matches he has failed to score a single point. He is on the verge of enduring the worst individual collapse in recent history.
To Washington’s credit, they are now playing their best basketball of the season and boast a young, growing team brimming with confidence backed by exactly the kind of veteran wit and guile necessary to succeed in the playoffs.
Bradley Beal has grown into his role as primary shooter, torching the Pacers shockingly poor perimeter defense for 25 points, 14 of which came in the fourth quarter as the Pacers tried to make it a game.
Trevor Ariza, a free agent looking set to receive a mighty pay-check this summer, added 22 points on a perfect 6-6 from deep.
Washington snapped a losing streak in Indianapolis dating back to April of 2007, while the victory was the Wizards’ first second-round win since the 1982 playoffs.
Indiana found themselves outrebounded 53-36, unsurprising when your seven-foot center finds himself unable to even accidentally stumble across a rebound in 18 minutes of play.
The Pacers led once all game, 31-30, before the Wizards embarked on a 26-12 run to take control of the game for good. Indiana closed to within 7 points early in the fourth before fading. They cut the gap to 5 points in the final 24 seconds on a George Hill three but after the game was effectively sealed.
Bradley Beal: 25 points, 8-18 FGS, 7 rebounds, 7 assists
Trevor Ariza: 22 points, 7-10 FGS, 6-6 3 FGS
Nene: 15 points, 6-16 FGS, 6 rebounds
Paul George: 18 points, 4-17 FGS, 9-9 FTS
George Hill: 18 points, 6-11 FGS
David West: 15 points, 6-15 FGS, 12 rebounds
Game 2 @IND: Wednesday April 7th, Tip: 7pm ET