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Pacers-Wizards Game 2 Preview: Indiana searches for answers

By James Herbert | NBA writer

John Wall has been driving the Wizards' attack. (USATSI)
John Wall has been driving the Wizards' attack. (USATSI)

More postseason coverage: Playoff schedule, results | Latest news, notes

Previewing Game 2 of the Pacers-Wizards first-round series.

1. Where We Are: The No. 1-seeded Indiana Pacers surrendered home-court advantage with a 102-96 loss to start the series on Monday. They fell behind early, allowing the Washington Wizards to open the game on an 8-0 run, and spent the rest of the game playing catch up. Bradley Beal played like the star he's destined to be, Roy Hibbert went without or a point and a rebound and John Wall caused more problems for the Pacers than his 13-point, nine-assist stat line would indicate. Indiana is in trouble.

Frank Vogel's squad faced a similar scenario in the first round, dropping its first game at home to the Atlanta Hawks. That whole series went back and forth, but the Pacers were able to squeak by in seven games. Atlanta is well-coached and intelligent, but with the way the Wizards are playing this postseason, Indiana is going to have to step things up in a major way. Things don't look good right now. Things will look bleak with another loss.

2. The Big Number: 62.5 percent. That's how well the Wizards shot in Game 1 from the three-point line, going 10-for-16. Ariza made all six of his attempts from downtown, while Beal shot shot 3-for-5. The Pacers were the league's best defensive team in the regular season, but Wall carved them up by getting into the lane and finding his shooters. Indiana had tons of trouble with the way the Hawks spread the floor, and Washington is going to try to make the Pacers pay the same way.

3. Key Adjustment: Pressure Beal. Indiana cannot afford to let the sophomore shooting guard feel as comfortable as he did in the series opener. As much as he deserves praise for his poise and decision making — at 20 years old, he deserves all of the praise in the world — Beal is inexperienced in this sort of setting. If the Pacers make it a priority, they should be able to force him to think more than he wants to. They should use multiple defenders and multiple schemes.

4. The Big Story: Hibbert's struggles. His teammates demanded that he get involved; he said he needed to look inward. Tracy McGrady and Gilbert Arenas called him out. Whether it's physical, mental or emotional, there's no denying the big man is in a huge funk. He's looked out of sorts since the latter portion of the regular season, and he's too important to Indiana for the team to survive if he keeps underperforming. At his best, Hibbert is the most dominant defensive center in the game, and he can score and pass out of the post. It'd be remarkable if he could remind people of this.

5. The Facts: 7 p.m. ET. Andrew Bynum has not suited up for the Paces since mid-March because of a knee injury.

 
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