Indiana wins series 4-2 (Game 6 of 6)

Indiana wins series 4-2

Game 1: Monday, May 5th
Game 2: Wednesday, May 7th
Game 3: Friday, May 9th
Game 4: Sunday, May 11th
Game 5: Tuesday, May 13th
Game 6: Thursday, May 15th

Pacers 93

(56-26, 21-20 away)

Wizards 80

(44-38, 22-19 home)

    Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

    8:00 PM ET, May 15, 2014

    Verizon Center, Washington, DC

    1 2 3 4 T
    IND 29 23 19 2293
    WSH 23 17 23 1780

    Top Performers

    Ind: D. West 29 Pts, 6 Reb, 4 Ast

    WSH: M. Gortat 19 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast

    Pacers-Wizards Preview

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's unclear exactly when John Wall got his mojo back. Maybe it started on the plane ride to Indianapolis, when he watched movies and remained unusually quiet while thinking to himself: "If we lost this series, I'd put it all on my shoulders."

    Maybe it was before the game, when he confessed his frustration to Randy Wittman and was promptly admonished by the coach: "He was like, `I never want to hear you say that ever again, because I know how confident you are in yourself and I know how competitive you are."

    Maybe it was when teammate Marcin Gortat, who had also been struggling in the series, pounded Wall on the chest after the starting lineups were announced and offered support "no matter what."

    One thing is clear: If the Washington Wizards manage the improbable and overcome a 3-1 series deficit against the Indiana Pacers, the turning point will be the moment their All-Star point guard stopped playing like a playoff novice.

    "You can get down on yourself pretty easy," Wall said.

    Unable to hit a shot or come through in clutch late-game situations in the first four games, Wall was all over the stat sheet in Tuesday's Game 5 rout: 27 points, five rebounds, five assists, five turnovers. He and the Wizards stayed alive, but only one-third of the would-be comeback is complete as they return home for Thursday's Game 6, trailing 3-2 in the series.

    To get it done, they'll need similar efforts from Wall, whom teammates have dubbed the Wizards' "head of the snake."

    "For the first time in 102, 103 games that we had this season, I seen this guy that didn't want to talk to anybody," Gortat said. "He didn't want to interact with anybody. He didn't rap before the game. He didn't laugh before the game. I guess it's just a lot of things around basketball that has influence on him. ... But at the end of the day, I'm with him. End of the day, I'm going to jump in the fire behind this guy."

    Wall was 16 for 51 from the field, including 1 for 11 from 3-point range, in the first four games. The pressure of the postseason seemed to get the better of him when he unwisely rushed a shot or two and got stripped late in Game 2, then passed up a wide-open 3-pointer that would have tied Game 4.

    Still to be determined is whether he has solved his late-game jitters -- Tuesday was a 23-point win, so he sat almost the entire fourth quarter -- but he finished 11 for 20 from the field in Game 5, including 3 for 6 behind the arc, and he ran the floor with authority.

    Wittman said he told Wall before the game: "You go out there and play as aggressive as you can at both ends of the floor and don't worry about mistakes, and don't worry about made or missed shots. You've got to be aggressive."

    "When he's tentative," Wittman added, "that's not John."

    Game 5 was a change of pace on many fronts. For one, the Wizards realized that halftime is only 15 minutes long. After losing the third quarter by an average 10 1/2 points through the first four games, Washington pulled away with a 31-14 third period.

    Gortat, barely a presence in Games 3 and 4, again proved worthy of his "Polish Hammer" nickname with 31 points and 16 rebounds. The Wizards' rebounding margin of plus-39 (62-23) tied for third highest in NBA playoff history.

    "We should never get outrebounded by 40," Indiana's Paul George said. "It was like their life was dependent on those rebounds."

    Now the Wizards have to figure out how to bring the road show home. They are 5-1 away in this year's playoffs and just 1/3 at the Verizon Center.

    "Everybody knows how we play at home. Quite honestly, we struggle at home," Gortat said. "It's going to be huge pressure."

    Much of the pressure will again be on Wall, with the Pacers attempting to stop the mojo revival and avoid a Game 7.

    "John actually hit some shots and things like that," Indiana's George Hill said. "As a guard I've got to get better and try to make it tough on him again, and not let him get off like that."


    Research Notes

    The Pacers have shown an ability to bounce back as they have posted a 4-0 record in games following a loss this postseason.
    The Pacers are seeking back-to-back Conference Final appearances for the first time since making 3 straight spanning 1998-2000. Should the Pacers advance to play the Heat in the Conference Finals it would be a rematch from last year when the Heat won in a hard-fought 7-game series. The teams split 4 games this season.
    Roy Hibbert totaled just 4 points in the Pacers Game 5 loss. He's averaging 19.7 PPG in 3 wins this series and just 2.0 PPG in the 2 losses.
    The Pacers are 8-1 all-time in best-of-7 series when leading 3-2 (as an NBA franchise). Their only series loss came in the 1994 Conference Finals against the Knicks. Only 8 of 221 teams in NBA history have overcome a 3-1 series deficit. The 2005-06 Suns were the last team to accomplish that feat in the First Round by defeating the Lakers. If there is a Game 7, the Pacers are 3-4 all-time in Game 7s as an NBA franchise (defeated Hawks in 7 games in 2014 First Round). The Wizards franchise is 6-3 all-time in Game 7s, but have not played a Game 7 since defeating the Spurs in the 1979 Eastern Conference Finals.
    The Pacers held the Wizards to 26% shooting on contested jump shots in their four wins this series, including 19% in Game 6 (5-of-27). For the series, the Wizards shot 11-of-50 (22%) when George Hill, Roy Hibbert or Lance Stephenson contested a shot. The Pacers also limited the Wizards' open looks in their four victories, allowing 19.8 uncontested shots per game. They allowed 26.5 such shots in their two losses.
    The Heat and Pacers will meet in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight season. It's the first time the same teams will meet in consecutive conference finals since 2005 and 2006, when the Pistons and Heat met in back-to-back years. But there is good news for the Pacers; the last time a team was beaten by the same opponent in the conference finals in consecutive seasons was 1989 and 1990, when the Pistons beat the Bulls two years in a row.
    The Pacers have played 13 games in the 2014 postseason entering the Eastern Conference Finals. Since the NBA expanded the 1st round to a best-of-7 series in 2003, that's tied for the second-most games played by a number 1 seed entering the conference finals.
    Last time the Wizards won a Conference Semifinals game at home: - April 29, 1979 (Game 7 vs Atlanta Hawks); 100-94 - Team was known as the Bullets - Elvin Hayes led the Bullets with 39 points - Andre Miller was the only current Wizards player alive (March 19, 1976) - 11 years before John Wall was born, 14 years before Bradley Beal was born
    Lance Stephenson had success attacking the basket in Game 6, scoring 14 points on drives and transition plays after struggling on such plays the first five games. As a result, Stephenson made more shots in the paint (8) in Game 6 than in Games 1-5 (7).

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