So last night, I'm driving south in search of some warmth for Spring Break, leaving me with the Wizards' radio call to follow the game live.
This was painful on a few levels. First, my appreciation of Mark Boyle was once again confirmed. Boyle can give some great homer calls when things are rolling for the Pacers, as he did on Wednesday against the Heat, but he also calls it straight down the middle when things aren't going well or the other team is excelling.
I didn't mind the Wiz crew delivering their biased version of the game, but incorporating 3-4 tweets from fans constantly was excruciating. So as the game started, the radio team was genuinely surprised at the intensity, especially on defense, that the Wizards were playing with, apparently in stark contrast to their previous couple of games.
As the Pacers turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter, I was being told it was due to a hyper-aggressive defensive attack, but I just couldn't believe some of this mess wasn't on the Pacers. After getting a chance to watch those turnovers, and as much of the game as I could stomach, my instincts were confirmed.
Yes, the Wizards were active, but they were really taking advantage of a Pacers team not matching the effort and instead just being lazy. Whether it is throwing a pass around the perimeter and not seeing the defender ready to jump the passing lane, or David West, just trying to muscle through his man and picking up a foul instead of working legally to get position, it comes down to focus and effort to win those battles.
The Pacers simply weren't ready for the Wizards to play well and thus were run out of the Verizon Center. With the Heat crushing the Pistons a the same time, the Pacers lead in the East is now down to two games. I honestly don't think the Heat are concerned with the top spot and will likely rest players down the stretch, but if the Pacers are willing to give up the spot, Miami will surely take advantage of the donation.
Check out the links:
Marcin Gortat, Al Harrington lead Wizards to 91-78 win over East-leading Pacers - The Washington PostMarcin Gortat, Al Harrington lead Wizards to 91-78 win over East-leading Pacers - The Washington Post