Washington hosted its first playoff game of the series last night and the atmosphere was electric. The crowd had plenty to cheer for from the start as John Wall made plays after plays to keep the fans into the game. It was a tough fought game throughout its entirety, but unfortunately for the Wizards they could not come out a victor.
Each of the three games in this series has entered the fourth quarter with a Bulls lead. Washington has had to make strides in the fourth to come back and come out on top. They were successful in both games in Chicago, but something had to give eventually and the Wizards could not complete the comeback in game three.
– Nene has been one of the best players in the lineup each and every game this series. His success could have come as a bit of a surprise since he has been matched up again the defensive player of the year Joakim Noah. Noah finally got the best of Nene defensively as Nene was only 5-15 from the field with 10 points. Nene got ejected in the fourth quarter after an altercation with Jimmy Butler; there has been no word yet by the league about a suspension. If Nene were to miss any time, that would be a crucial loss of experience for this young squad.
– In games one and two, it was Chicago’s second unit that would give them a spark to get them right back into the game. Taj Gibson and D.J. Augustin would be the main two players that would have their way with the Wizards defense. The two of them combined for 26 points last night which is not nearly the kind of damage those two were doing before. Taj Gibson was a problem for Washington down low on the boards as he only grabbed four total last night after grabbing nine offensive boards last game.
– Free throws hurt the Wizards in game two, but they got away with a victory. Last night, missed free throws late down the stretch cost this team a victory. John Wall missed two significant free throws late and after the game he took blame for the home loss for those missed opportunities from the charity strike.
– Guard play has been the most positive aspect of this series from Washington and the young backcourt keeps blossoming. Beal and Wall combined for 48 points with 12 assists and only one turnover. These two are not showing any signs of inexperience when it comes to playoff basketball and they are the reason why they have had the chances to win these games late.
– If there is one adjustment that the Wizards need to make for next game it is to prepare for Mike Dunleavy. He went 8 of 10 from the three point line and finished with 35 points. Dunleavy mentioned after the game that coach Thibodeau wanted to open things up for him on the floor for more shot opportunities after game two. With Dunleavy’s success, Washington must find a way to deny some of his looks in game four.
The phrase “must-win” is thrown around a lot in the playoffs for any sport and this is a situation that Washington is in for game four. The Wizards are in a must win stance for game four because they cannot afford to give the Bulls more life. They have been in control after a commanding 2-0 series lead on the road and cannot afford to give the Bulls back the momentum. Losing both games at home with a series back to even at two would not be good for the Wizards especially with game five back in Chicago.