Wizards in full control of series after game two
The Washington Wizards head back to DC with a two game lead over the Chicago Bulls after squeezing out an overtime victory in what can only be described as an ugly game. The easiest thing to do would be to criticize the officiating for their, seemingly biased but mostly just incredibly inconsistent, foul calling. However, I do not believe a team should ever look to the officiating as an excuse for a loss or poor play. No matter how much a part of the outcome the officiating becomes, it is the players’ responsibility to adjust and make the plays to win the game.
Yes, the inconsistent calls did contribute to the ugliness of this game but it was also clear that Wizard’s head coach Randy Wittman would not allow his team to get distracted by the officials. Wittman used his timeout and substitutions wisely to keep the young Wizards under control and the game from getting too far out of hand. Wittman is demonstrating a remarkable calm under the pressure of the playoffs and is seemingly out coaching the much respected Tom Thibodeau.
Where the Wizards really got into trouble this game was under the basket. For much of the first half and third quarter, Marcin Gortat and Nene were unable to keep the Bulls off of the boards. Every time the Bulls needed a rebound it seemed they got it. John Wall and Bradley Beal kept the Wizards in the lead through the first half but when Wall began to struggle in the third, the second chances for the Bulls gave Chicago the lead. To Nene’s credit however, he was able to find some offense in the fourth quarter and overtime, taking some of the burden off of Beal, and contributed greatly to the Wizards victory.
The highlight reels and national recaps may boil the game down to Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich missing the game tying free throws at the end of the overtime period, but the truth is this game was the Wizards to win from the start.
A poor defensive scheme in the third quarter combined with Wall’s second half struggles kept the Wizards from winning in regulation more than what the Bulls were able to do. No disrespect to Bulls guard DJ Augustin, but the Wizards modified Box-and-one defense was what allowed him to get the looks he did. The Wizards off the ball defenders were looking more to jump passing lanes than they were to covering their lane assignments and the Bulls guards took full advantage.
Once Wittman adjusted his defense to a more standard Man-to-man with weak side help, the once open lanes for the Bulls were closed quickly. It was the type of adjustment that shows just how well Wittman understands his team and how in control he is of the situation.Overall it was a gutsy team effort that earned Washington the win and a big two game to none advantage in the series, as well as, a valuable learning experience that should serve them well if (no jinx) they make it to the second round.