INDIANA PACERS (63-31)
at WASHINGTON WIZARDS (50-42)
NBA Playoffs - Eastern Conference Semifinals
Game 6 - Indiana leads series 3-2
Tip-off: Thursday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Washington -4.5, Total: 181
The Wizards will try to keep the momentum going when they attempt to tie up their Eastern Conference Semifinals series at home versus the Pacers on Thursday night.
Washington had averaged only 79.0 PPG on 41% FG (27% threes) over three straight defeats in this series, but shot a blistering 50% FG in Tuesday's surprising 102-79 blowout of host Indiana in Game 5. The Wizards got 90 points from their starting five and held a ridiculous 62-23 rebounding advantage (18-4 on offensive glass) thanks in large part to the Pacers making only 39% FG and 59% free throws (13-of-22). Now they go back on the road where they are a strong 25-21 SU (21-25 ATS) this season, and are also 19-9 ATS in the past two seasons on the road revenging a loss versus an opponent. Although Washington has been a subpar home team this season at 23-22 SU and 17-26-2 ATS, the club has thrived in the underdog role at 30-17-1 ATS (64%). Over the past three seasons, Indiana is 11-4 SU (6-9 ATS) overall in this series, including 5-2 SU (4-3 ATS) in the nation's capital. Although the Pacers are a dismal 5-16 ATS (24%) when facing a winning team in the second half of this season, they are also 21-11 ATS (66%) as a road underdog of 3.5 to 6 points in the past three seasons. The Wizards have no significant injuries, while Indiana remains without backup C Andrew Bynum (knee).
Indiana's offense struggled during the regular season (96.7 PPG on 44.9% FG and 35.7% threes), and has been even worse in this series with 88.2 PPG on 42.2% FG. The defense continues to carry the club to the brink of the conference finals by holding opponents to a meager 90.7 PPG on 40.5% FG during the playoffs. SF Paul George (21.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 3.0 APG, 2.0 SPG in series) exploded in Game 4 with 39 points on 12-of-20 FG (7-of-10 threes), but he followed that up with a poor 5-for-15 shooting night on Tuesday, scoring only 15 points with a minus-24 rating. C Roy Hibbert (12.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.0 BPG in series) was outstanding in his team's three straight victories in this series with 19.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.3 BPG and +47 rating, but has tallied a pathetic 2.0 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 1.5 BPG and a minus-44 rating in the pair of losses. On Tuesday, the 7-foot-2 All-Star scored four points (2-of-7 FG) with two rebounds and a minus-27 rating. PF David West (13.4 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.8 APG in series) continues to give his team consistent production, netting 17 points with six boards and three assists in Game 5. But after posting a stellar +63 rating in the first four games in this series, he tallied a horrendous minus-35 rating on Tuesday. PG George Hill (11.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.4 SPG in series) has also had a strong series, but provided his worst effort of the second round in Game 5 when he scored only three points on 1-of-8 FG. Hill also tallied two turnovers and two assists and a terrible minus-30 rating in his 31 minutes. Backcourt mate SG Lance Stephenson (10.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.2 APG in series) failed to score in double-figures for the third straight game on Tuesday, and chipped in only three assists and zero rebounds with a minus-23 rating in an uninspiring 28 minutes. Although Stephenson made half of his shots (4-for-8 FG), he is still 18-of-54 FG (33%) in this series. Indiana's bench produced some strong minutes on Tuesday with all eight reserves scoring, while combining for 31 points (11-of-25 FG) and a +24 rating. This was quite an improvement from the bench's collective two points (1-of-9 FG) and minus-49 rating in Game 4.
Although the Wizards shot well from the floor in Game 5, they made only 5-of-18 threes (28%) and had nearly as many turnovers (19) as assists (21). For the series, the team is scoring only 88.2 PPG on 43.2% FG and 33.7% threes, while averaging a paltry 19.2 APG and 15.6 TOPG. But Washington's team defense has been excellent in the playoffs, where it has limited opponents to a mere 89.1 PPG on 42.2% FG. The offense was in high gear on Tuesday, especially in the second half when Washington scored 57 points. The star of Game 5 was clearly C Marcin Gortat (14.0 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 1.0 BPG in series) who made a near perfect 13-of-15 FG to finish with 31 points, 16 boards and a +34 rating. This was quite a step up from his horrendous showing in Game 4 when he scored two points (1-of-3 FG) with three rebounds and a minus-11 rating. But Gortat wasn't the only player to shine on Tuesday, as the backcourt of PG John Wall (14.6 PPG, 7.0 APG in series) and SG Bradley Beal (19.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 5.0 APG, 2.2 SPG in series) was outstanding. Two days after scoring only 12 points (4-of-11 FG) with a minus-21 rating, Wall poured in 27 points (11-of-20 FG) with a +30 rating in the Game 5 victory. But the superstar point guard has made only 38% FG and 24% threes (4-for-17) during this series. Beal finished his Tuesday with a well-rounded 18 points (7-of-17 FG), eight rebounds, four assists and a +23 rating. Beal has been the team's most consistent scorer versus Indiana with at least 16 points in all five games. Although SF Trevor Ariza (13.2 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 2.2 SPG in series) scored just 10 points on Tuesday, he also grabbed 10 rebounds with five assists. He's happy to return home where he has burned the Pacers for 14.0 PPG (53% FG, 4-of-10 threes), 12.0 RPG and 3.0 SPG in the two meetings this series. The only Wizards starter that did not play well in Game 5 was PF Nene Hilario (10.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.8 BPG in series) who scored four points (2-of-6 FG), with four rebounds and four assists in his 24 minutes. After starting this series on a high note with 14.5 PPG and 5.5 RPG in the first two games, Nene has averaged only 7.3 PPG (29% FG) and 3.3 RPG in the past three contests. But unlike the Pacers bench that played terribly in Game 4 and strong in Game 5, the Wizards were been just the opposite. After netting 32 points (13-of-26 FG) in Game 4, the Washington reserves accounted for only 12 points on 4-of-15 FG in Tuesday's victory.