No Nene…No Problem. The Wizards were able to take a commanding 3-1 series lead dominating the Bulls 98-89. Trevor Ariza had the hot hand all day scoring a playoff career high 30 points. John Wall recorded his first career playoff double double with 15 points and 10 assists, while Bradley Beal chipped in 18. The absence of the big Brazilian didn’t seem to affect the offense as the Wizards got off to a blistering pace jumping out to a 14-0 run to start the game. The score wasn’t truly indicative of the game as the Wizards dominated the offensively challenged Bulls.
Chicago struggled to generate any consistent offense outside of Taj Gibson who led all scorers with 32 points, shooting an impressive 13 of 16 from the field. Four year vet Trevor Booker filled Nene’s starting spot amicable providing the Wizards with relentless hustle and toughness inside. Booker, who fouled out with five minutes remaining, finished with eight points and nine boards. Marcin “The Polish Machine” Gortat filled up the box score with 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
The Wizards will look to close out the series Tuesday when they head back north to the United Center. Even if the Bulls manage to win game five, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the Wizards don’t advance to the next round. Since the switch to a seven game playoff format, only eight teams were able to overcome a 3-1 series deficit and move on to the next round. Assuming they go through to the Eastern Conference semi-finals, the Wizards would await the winner of the Pacers Hawks series which is currently deadlocked at 2 games apiece. The upstart Wizards are peaking at the perfect time and have to feel good about their chances at advancing to the Eastern Conference finals where they will like find an old playoff nemesis and the 2 time defending champion Miami Heat.