The Wizards picked a bad time to play their worst game of this postseason. The season is over after losing 94-91 in Game 6.
1. Worst effort of the playoffs. The Wizards laid an egg for the first time in the playoffs. After 9 superior efforts, they came out flat and played tired tonight, especially in the first half. Gortat was sick and they missed him tonight. He’s a big part of Wall’s game offensively and that wasn’t available tonight.
2. 1st-half struggles. The Wizards scored just 39 first half points on 35% shooting from the floor and generated just 3 first-half fast-break points. Amazingly they were able to snag 13 first-half offensive rebounds (thanks mostly to Otto Porter) but couldn’t convert on 2nd and 3rd chances. The Hawks had 12 offensive rebounds. Luckily, Atlanta was a little off themselves in the first-half or they would’ve had a double-digit lead at the break.
3. Defensive problems most of the night. The Hawks were a tough cover tonight. Teague & Schroder abused the Wizards all night long creating for themselves and others. They combined for 29 points and 11 assists….it seemed like it was more than that. Millsap and Horford were near impossible for Nene, Gortat, Seraphin, Gooden, and/or Pierce to check and Carroll was a tough guard regardless of who was matched up against him. People can complain all they want about Wittman, Nene, Gortat, etc….there weren’t many options tonight. If your perimeter people can’t keep the ball in front of them, it’s going to be a long night, especially when you’ve gone small for big portions of the game and don’t have much rim protection. Atlanta’s ball movement once they broke the defense down on the perimeter was excellent.
4. Hawks’ 6-0 run end of first-half hurt. Despite their worst half of the playoffs, the Wizards were still tied up at 39-39 with a minute left in the first half. The Hawks however went on a 6-zip run that gave them a ton of momentum going into halftime. It carried over into the 3rd quarter where they built a 15-point lead.
5. Wall and Beal carried the Wizards offensively. Wall and Beal combined for 49 points but got little help from anyone else. Seraphin contributed a career playoff high of 13 off the bench but was the only other player on the team that scored in double figures. Pierce went 1 for 7 for 4 points and looked tired on both ends. Nene struggled again and gave them nothing on offense. Gortat was sick and Porter didn’t give them much scoring-wise even though he was super-active as a rebounder on both ends.
6. After finally taking the lead…disaster. Give the Wizards credit; they didn’t quit down 15 midway through the 3rd quarter. They hung around within 7-10 pts for a long stretch between midway through the 3rd quarter and midway through the 4th. Their big run started with just over 5 minutes left in the game when they went on a 9-zip run to take an 88-87 lead. The Verizon Center was going nuts but that would be the end of the fun. Disastrous offense followed. They had three possessions with a 1-point lead and they couldn’t extend it. Nene missed two free throws after grabbing an offensive rebound off a Porter short miss. Then a shot clock violation because Wall waited too long to make a move with the ball. Then Pierce missed a 3-pointer. They would miss one more free throw (Wall) and 3 more point-blank layups the rest of the way. When all was said and done, the Wizards scored just 3 points over the final 3:49.
7. Pierce shot too late. A tough way for a season to end but the would-be 3-pointer came 1/10th of a second too late. Still, what thrills he provided over the last 3 weeks.
8. What’s next? I think that if Wall didn’t break his hand and miss three games in this series, the Wizards would’ve won in 5. They swept a series for the first time in franchise history and they played very well in 9 of their 10 playoff games. They need to get more athletic in the front court and could use a more effective back-up for Wall. Sessions did a nice job and is under contract but they need a bit more on both ends off the bench. Nene’s best days are obviously in the rear view even though he’s under contract next year. Pierce should come back and hopefully Porter’s emergence in the playoffs results in a 2015-16 breakout season. Wall and Beal are two legit stars and they’ll continue to get better. It would help if they could make it through a season & postseason healthy. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with Seraphin. They’ve always liked him and he proved during the regular season and tonight in the playoffs that he can help as an 18+ minute bench player at the very least. Without any major changes, they’ll win 45-50 next year and be a threat to win at least one series if not 2.