The Washington Wizards needed to beat the Indiana Pacers on the road if they wanted to extend the Eastern Conference Semifinals. They did beat them on the glass and dominated Game 5 with a stirring 102-79 victory to live another day in this best-of-seven affair.
Washington outrebounded Indiana, 62-23 and was dominant on the offensive glass (18-4) as well. The rebounding advantage of 39 is the biggest in an NBA playoff game since 1985.
With total control of the boards early, the Wizards raced to a 25-19 lead after the first quarter.
The Wizards continued the onslaught the rest of the way as Marcin Gortat and John Wall logged in monster numbers.
"They're not ready to go home, number one. As we talked as a group (before the game), we came in here and won Game 1, they came into our place and convincingly won Game 3, but the other two games were tossups. It was close to being 2-2 or 3-1 the other way. We weren't that far away and I wanted our guys to realize that,” shared Wizards head coach Randy Wittman to NBA.com.
The Polish center finished with 31 points and 16 rebounds to match his career-high in scoring. Wall bounced back from so-so performances in recent games with 27 points (3-6 from behind the arc), 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
Bradley Beal added 18 points and veteran Trevor Ariza had 10.
For the Pacers, they lost the chance to close out the series at home as Roy Hibbert’s disappearing act continues in this postseason. The much-maligned big man registered just 4 points in 25 minutes. David West led the Pacers with 17 points and added 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Paul George was the only other player in double figure scoring with 15 points and he missed 10 of 15 shots.
Wall remains realistic about their chances in this series admitting that they are still playing from behind.
The series is now at 3-2 still in favor of the Pacers but Game 6 on Thursday is set in Washington, where the Wizards can extend it yet again and force a Game 7 back in Indiana.
"The pressure's still on us. It's one game and you're out," said the 23-year-old point guard.