INDIANAPOLIS -- After the first time the Wizards came to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Marcin Gortat retreated to the locker room and was confident in their ability to beat the Indiana Pacers despite losing by 20.
"Right after we lost that game we came into the locker room we said we can definitely beat this team. We just got to play a little bit better. We got to make shots," said Gortat, who led the Wizards with 17 points and 10 rebounds in that 93-73 defeat on Nov. 29.
That all sounds good, but the Wizards told themselves the same thing after getting worked 93-66 on Jan. 10. Gortat was held to four points and nine rebounds in that one. They still haven't won here since 2007, or 12 times in a row.
"It was just two bad nights. They played decent defense," said Gortat, careful not to give their second-opponent too much credit heading into Game 1 Monday (TNT, 7 p.m. ET).
The Wizards didn't have Nene in the first meeting and he was playing on a minutes restriction in the second one after returning from a foot injury. They also didn't have Nene on March 28 when the Pacers came to Verizon Center and were blown out 91-78. So while Nene's value is undeniable as he proved in that first-round series upset of the Chicago Bulls, the Wizards can't use that as a crutch. They've proved they win without him. Just not in Indianapolis -- yet.
"I don't think we played great. I don't think we played the way we were supposed to play," Wizards point guard John Wall said of his inability to win here in his four-year career. "We haven't really made shots here as much. We turned the ball over a lot. We don't get out into the open court and put pace into the game. For some reason, when we're at home when we play this team we've got a lot of pace and ball movement. It gets us going on both ends of the floor."