Coach Wittman has stressed in his post game press conferences how tough it is to close out a series and move on to another round. He couldn’t have hit the nail on the head any better after tonight’s struggle to the end.
This was a typical type of game that the Bulls favor in; a low scoring game dependent on their defense and occasional offense. The Wizards only scored 75 points, but made plays at the end when they needed to be made to most.
The growth of John Wall from his rookie year until now has been remarkable to watch. Wall has expanded his game into so many different ways and tonight was a perfect example, let alone the whole series. There are times where he needs to manage the game and control the flow of the offense and times where he needs to attack and get his shots.
Tonight Wall had to be in attack mode especially in the fourth quarter where their lead was minimal. John hit key shots down the stretch to keep the lead and ultimately win this game. He finished with a team high 24 points with only one turnover.
Nene was back tonight after his one game suspension for game four and he was the hot hand early in the game. Nene has been a problem for the defensive player of the year all series long and tonight gave him even more frustration. He was feeling his outside jumper, which can be so problematic for a defender. With an outside shot going, Nene is also quick enough to get inside and to the basket. The big man recorded 20 points in game five and was the dominant force inside all series.
Marcin Gortat stepped up big time in game four when Nene was not able to play, but tonight was his worst performance of the series. Gortat was struggling on the offensive end, but to counter his problems offensively, he came up with three huge plays at the end of the game. Washington was trying to hold a tight lead and kept missing their shots.
Gortat tipped two balls backward to regain possession and waste more game clock and also grabbed a third ball down. Those three plays gave Chicago limited opportunities to make a comeback to tie the game.
The rest of the tandem in the frontcourt contributed 23 points. Trevor Ariza did not have a good shooting night tonight as he only concluded the game with 6 points. Ariza can take a pass due to his 30-point performance he had the game before. Beal had 17 points tonight and was one of the teams more consistent players throughout the series.
The X-factor of this team off the bench is Trevor Booker and he continues to bring good energy to the floor. He was all hustle tonight on both sides of the floor. His stats are not quite ever that gaudy with only 6 points, but those hustle plays are what make a difference in a playoff series. His blocked shots, hustle after loose balls and effort on the glass is what can kick this team up into another gear.
The Washington Wizards have defeated the Chicago Bulls in an impressive 4-1 fashion. This is the kind of series that can carry so much confidence and momentum into the next round. The young stars of this team are getting their first glimpse of what playoff basketball is like and they couldn’t have played much better.
Winning three games on the road is what sticks out the most to me when thinking back to this series. Chicago is a constant sell out crowd with a tough playoff environment. It never fazed this Washington squad from the very start and they never looked back.
It is a good time to be optimistic about this teams chances going forward because they have looked very strong in so many different areas. Their frontcourt has been tremendous, the backcourt rises when the pressure does and the defense has shown capability of being very tight with good ball pressure.
Now the team will get a well deserved rest for a little bit of time until they know who their next opponent will be. Washington fans should be praying that the Hawks can close out one of the next two games against the Indiana Pacers. They have done better head to head against the Hawks and they match up a whole lot better against them than they do with the Pacers. If the Wizards can catch a break and face the Hawks next round, the Eastern Conference finals are a real possibility. Time to get excited fans and rally behind the Wizards because DC is rising!