Thursday, May 15 at 8:00 PM ET at Verizon Center
Game Preview: Pacers at Wizards, Game 6
Scott Agness | May 13, 2014
Back to Washington D.C. the Pacers go for Game 6 of their best-of-seven series with the Wizards. Coming off a 23-point loss Tuesday night, the Pacers will look to handle their business at the Verizon Center. A win would wrap up the series and push them forward to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second consecutive season.
The buzzwords in the locker room after Game 5 were “desperation” and “toughness,” both of which the Pacers will need to bring to Game 6. If not, the Pacers and Wizards may end up squaring off in a decisive Game 7 back at the Fieldhouse on Sunday.
Because of the Wizards “manhandling,” as Paul George put it, of the Pacers in Game 5, coach Frank Vogel said he wouldn’t mind if the team took the bad taste in their mouth in to Thursday’s game. Getting outrebounded by 39 and shooting just 39 percent on your home floor will do that.
The Wizards made a few minor adjustments, with their aggressiveness on the ball handlers most prevalent. The pace certainly favored the Wizards, who thrive on the run. That kept the Pacers on their heels and they never appeared comfortable all night. The Wizards’ performance didn’t surprise the Pacers; they knew what they were capable of. The Wizards upped their level of intensity and played with desperation. Now, the Pacers want to turn the tables around on their floor.
In this series, both teams want to dictate the tempo because of their contrasting interests. The Wizards want to run as much as they can. While the Pacers look to push it when they can, they’re the better team in the half-court. The Pacers’ offense got hung up too frequently in Game 5, much to the credit of the Wizards’ in-your-face attack, causing the Pacers to force shots up to beat the shot clock.
Before flying out, the team watched a lot of film on rebounding and reviewed the dozens of shots they missed that they feel they normally would have hit. Going 30-of-77 from the field, they tracked down just four of their 47 misses. Much of that was physicality, but it was also a lack of blocking out and then the trickle down effects of things going awry. As far as the glass goes, center Roy Hibbert said, “We have to make sure we wipe them out tomorrow.”
It’s going to take a team effort for the Pacers, but one guy they really need a strong effort from is Lance Stephenson. He’s the self-proclaimed hype man on this team who says that he is always amped. That energy was clearly missing in Game 5, where he scored just nine points and failed to grab a rebound for the first time all season. If Stephenson, the top rebounding guard in the NBA and the team’s leader during the regular season (7.2rpg), isn’t active on the glass, that’s a telling sign.
The Pacers have consistently stepped up when necessary. In fact, they have positively risen to the challenge, going 4-0 this postseason following a loss. While Thursday’s game isn’t an absolute must-win, they need to treat it as such.
“I thought they played harder than us (in Game 5). You’re in the Elite 8, so to speak, of the NBA playoffs and if you don’t play harder than the team you’re playing against, you’re going to lose. Period.” – Frank Vogel
“We got a great opportunity to go and close them out in their building. We got to bring unbelievable energy, focus to win a tough game.” – David West
“We’ve got to go get this one, by any means. We don’t want to draw this one out any further than we already just did. This is a must-win. We’ve got to come into this game like we’re down 2-3 instead of being up 3-2.” – Paul George
“We just got to come out aggressive, bring the energy and just play Pacers basketball. Play smart and get under them.” – Lance Stephenson
“I need to bring more of an effort, more passion out there. We have another chance to close it out. It’ll be a different Roy than what you saw (Tuesday) night.” – Roy Hibbert
“I think we just play better when we know our backs are against the wall, we know it’s just us out there. It brings us closer for whatever reason and we play with energy.” – Paul George on their team success on the road
- The Pacers and Wizards have gone a combined 9-2 in road games this postseason compared to a surprising 4-7 mark at home.
- Paul George leads the league with 32 3-point field goals this postseason and is shooting a team-best 43.2 percent from long distance.
May 13: The Pacers “didn’t match their desperation and their physicality,” according to Frank Vogel, in a 102-79 loss Tuesday night. The Wizards, who won their fifth road game of the playoffs, outrebounded the Pacers by 39 and outscored the Pacers by 17 points in the third quarter to take full control. The loss was Indiana’s second-largest home playoff defeat in franchise history.
Wizards center Marcin Gortat went off for 31 points, matching his playoff career-high, and 16 rebounds. Point guard John Wall tallied 27 points, 17 coming in the decisive third quarter. The Pacers had just two double-figure scorers, paced by David West’s 17. They managed a playoff franchise-low 23 rebounds and missed nine of their 22 foul shots.
Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »
TV: ESPN – Mike Tirico (play-by-play), Hubie Brown (analyst)
NOTE: FOX Sports Indiana will air a postgame show immediately following the conclusion of Game 2, hosted by Chris Denari, Quinn Buckner, and Brooke Olzendam./>
Radio: 1070 The Fan & FM 107.5, Pacers Radio Network – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Michael Grady (studio host)