8 thoughts on the Wizards Game 3 walk-off win.
1. Organizational win. The Wizards had answers for the loss of John Wall and they were well-coached throughout. Ernie Grunfeld deserves credit for the roster but more specifically as it relates to this game, the addition of Pierce and the late-season additions of Sessions and Bynum. Randy Wittman had this team ready from the start in this game on both ends and his in-season management of Pierce’s minutes has paid huge post-season dividends. I thought the Wizards ran some of the best half-court set-play offense they’ve run in these playoffs. The game-winning shot was a play put in Friday to get Pierce matched up against a smaller player. Defensively, he’s been one-step ahead of his opponents throughout the playoffs.
2. Great start. Maybe it was the confidence of hanging around in Game 2 without Wall but the Wizards were so confident from the start in Game 4. Every player including the players that came off the bench were aggressive on both ends. They defended well, ran very good set plays on offense, and made the right decisions in transition. Nene gave them a huge offensive lift. He went for 13 in the first half on 6-8 from the floor. He dominated Atlanta’s bigger players Antic and a flu-ridden Millsap. The Wizards had 16 assists on 22 first-half field goals and shot 51%. Eight players scored in the first-half and nobody was bashful looking for offense. They led by as many as 18 and the tone set early continued into the 3rd and early 4th where they built what seemed like an insurmountable lead.
3. Beal’s all-around game. It would be easy to pick on his five turnovers and his always too-casual ball-handling but Beal had 8 assists, played excellent defense, and drew double-teams all day long. He was the target of Atlanta’s defense and for the most part he did a very good job of setting up others.
4. Wall’s replacements. Ramon Sessions went just 2-10 from the floor for 8 points but he put pressure on the defense most of the day. He had 6 assists including a couple of great Wall-like corner to corner passes for open 3’s. Will Bynum led the team in 4th-quarter scoring and knocked down two huge free throws in the closing seconds of the game. Their defense on Teague/Schroder left a lot to be desired but they didn’t get much help as the rest of the team stayed on 3-point shooters most of the day.
5. Otto Porter. He was very good again scoring, passing, rebounding, and defending. It’s crazy to say it considering what we watched during the regular season but he’s been the most consistent all-around player since Game 2 in the Toronto series. I’m not saying he’s a better scorer than Wall, Beal, or Pierce. Not saying he’s a better rebounder than Gortat. But it’s a given now that Porter is going to give you something decent to much better than decent in an all-around way.
6. Atanta’s comeback. Chalk up Atlanta’s comeback to a combination of hot shooting and the Wizards’ carelessness with the ball. Six 4th quarter turnovers were six shot attempts the Wizards didn’t get but worse, the majority of the turnovers led to easy points on the other end. No John Wall means Atlanta can really pressure the ball. Beal must improve his ball-handling when be guarded closely by a legit defender. Teague and Schroder are legit quick and both anticipate well. Even Shelvin Mack got a clean pick and layup.
7. Schroder travelled. Sliding on the floor with control of the basketball with both feet in the air should be traveling….I think. Schroder’s skid set up the Muscala game-tying 3.
8. Pierce game-winner. It was a great play out of the timeout by Randy Wittman. Will Bynum set a great screen forcing Schroder to switch on to Pierce. With a 6-inch height advantage, Pierce was able to shoot over him. At first it looks like Pierce’s buzzer-beating bank shot was lucky. With any other player I’d say it probably was. Not him. BTW, it is arguably the biggest shot in franchise history. It’s certainly the biggest since the Arenas buzzer-beater in Game 5 back in 2005 that gave the Wizards a 3-2 series lead over the Bulls.