'Really confident' Wizards looking past the past versus Pacers

'Really confident' Wizards looking past the past versus Pacers
May 4, 2014, 3:15 pm
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By the numbers, the Wizards are in trouble against the Indiana Pacers. Not that Washington feels that way heading into Monday's second round series opener in Indianapolis. 

"We’re really confident," center Marcin Gortat said following Sunday's practice at the Verizon Center, the team's first since officially learning the identity of their next foe. 

Gortat maintained the glass-half full approach even with the reality that Indiana held Washington to its two lowest scoring games of the season. The Wizards lost 93-73 on Nov. 29 and 93-66 on Jan. 10. Both of those games were in Indianapolis, where the first two games of the series play out. In the final regular season meeting, Washington triumphed 91-78 at the Verizon Center. 

“We had two actually pretty good games over there that we lost," Gortat said of the road losses. "We played hard for 48 minutes, but we just couldn’t make a shot. Later on we had a third game at home and we took care of the home game.” 

The advanced stats back up Gortat's claim. In the first meeting, Washington shot 10 of 40 on uncontested field goal attempts, which NBA.com's Sports VU technology deems as when a shooter does not a have a defender within four feet. 

Drilling down further, Trevor Ariza and John Wall each went 3 for 10 in such shooting scenarios, Gortat and Martell Webster 1 of 4. Bradley Beal did not play due to an injury and ex-Wizard Jan Vesely started. 

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Speaking of individual numbers, Wall shot only 34 percent in three games versus Indiana. That represents his worst clip against any Eastern Conference team. The point guard also averaged 13.7 points, nearly six below his regular season average. 

Therefore, a question was put to head coach Randy Wittman about Wall's production versus the Pacers. More specifically, what does he need to do for a turnaround? 

“What does he need to do to turn that around?" the coach incredulously barked back. "He just needs to play. There is nothing he has to do. Hey, you’re going to have ups and downs this season. What did we play them, 25 times this year? No, we played them three times. He’s had three games. We won one of them." 

The Wizards downed the Bulls 4-1 in large part to Wall staying calm and cool despite the intensity going up several notches. He found open teammates with the pass and took the shots as needed. Wall scored a team-high 24 points in the series clincher against the Bulls last Tuesday. 

"He’s got to continue to be who he is, control tempo of the game, understand and control what we do from an offensive standpoint. Listen, guys, there is no magical wand here. ... John doesn’t need to do anything differently. I think John is playing extremely well right now and that’s all he need to worry about.”           

Certainly don't worry about the numbers - or the past against Indiana even if that includes no road wins since 2007.

"The first thing we said after we came back from the locker room is that this team is definitely beatable, " said Gortat about postgame thoughts following one of the earlier losses at Indiana. "We just didn't make shots. We played awful. Missed early layups, too many turnovers. We played too wild.

"It was early in the year. Now we're definitely a better team. We have different mentality. I'm sure we're going to come ready to play. I'm sure it's going to be a totally different team."

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