Wizards win big to extended their series; Thunder outlast the Clippers to take series lead
We got a big night of basketball last night. The Clippers-Thunder game is taking all of the headlines right now and while I have plenty to say, let’s talk about the eastern conference game from last night. Washington dominated the Pacers during the second half of last night’s game and sent the series back to the nation’s capital for a 6th game. The Wizards were pretty impressive from start to finish last night. Their rebounding edge (62-23) was astonishing and their combo of Marcin Gortat and John Wall as well. Gortat and Wall led the way for Washington, combining for 58 pts, 21 reb and 7 ast in their blowout win over the Pacers. Can we see some consistency from either of these teams? As great as Washington was last night, they have failed to look just as impressive against the Pacers when they’re in front of their home crowd. The Wizards controlled nearly every factor of the game last night but can they do it more than one game in a row? Wall had some turnovers but his shooting display was impressive, scorching the Pacers during a big 3rd quarter for Washington. It was a huge surprise because, so far in this series, Indiana has controlled every single 3rd quarter. Last night it was the 3rd quarter where the Wizards put the game out of reach. What went wrong for the Pacers? Well, to start off, they can’t let another team have a near 3-to-1 rebounding edge over them. They also need a more balanced attack on offense. Aside from Paul George and David West, no other player had a double digit scoring night. Indiana has to revert back to their style of games 2-4 if they want finish the series. It’s very rare for a team to come back from a 3-1 deficit (8 out of 219) but Washington has all the tools to do so. And at the same time, Indiana has all the tools to close them out. Which team will execute?
Now to the bigger story of the night. Where do I even being to discuss the Clippers visiting the Thunder last night? The Thunder took a big lead over the Clippers in their series last night, outlasting LA in a game that ended in a whirlwind of questionable calls and bizarre execution. I tried as best as I could to describe the chaos that happened at the end of that game in once sentence. Being a neutral observer, it was hard for me to watch last night’s game. It’s impossible to argue that the referees didn’t have a big influence on last night’s game. But it’s also impossible to argue which team received most of the benefit. At first glance, one would obviously say the Clippers. The replay that appeared to favor LA, the apparent touch committed by Reggie Jackson. Yes, there was some big influence by the officials but did they tell Chris Paul to foul Russell Westbrook on that terrible 3-point attempt? Westbrook (38 points) makes the clutch free throws and the Thunder take the lead for good. Despite all the talk about the referees going on, why aren’t more people talking about the lack of execution down the stretch by either team? For two teams with championship aspirations, they played some really ugly basketball during the final minutes. It’s a shame really. These are two of the most entertaining teams in the league and unless we get a 7th game, the most important game of the series will remain known for bad officiating and poor play instead of must-watch basketball. Chances are that the Thunder will go on to win the series but they haven’t been impressive enough so I could (hope to) see a 7th and final game. Let’s just hope it’s better all around basketball this time around.
Not going to sugarcoat the games tonight. I expect both the Heat and Spurs to close things out tonight and prepare for the conference finals.