Would anything surprise us about the Pacers anymore?
That they let the Wizards start the game on an 8-0 run? That Roy Hibbert continued his plummet from being an All-Star just a year ago? That the Pacers made four three-pointers in the last 40 seconds and still couldn't come close to winning?
The Wizards pounced on the Pacers, who still looked like the struggling team we've come to know over the past couple months, leading for nearly all of the game on Indiana's home court before winning, 102-96.
Washington started off hot with a pretty dominant first quarter led by John Wall, whose seed and length bothered the Pacers on both sides of the floor. The Pacers did little to bother them early, missing a ton of layups and shots at the rim and doing little to stop the Wizards' offense inside and out. Washington led by as much as 14 in the quarter and made their three-point attempts.
The second quarter went much better for Indiana. They rallied quickly with a 9-0 run but then tumbled once again when Wall and Nene returned. Nene had a terrific quarter with a vicious dunk and some jumpers taken in space provided by Mr. Hibbert. Trevor Ariza capitalized on openings behind the arc with two treys in the quarter and the Pacers early quarter run was quickly forgotten as the Wizards kept their 13-point lead to finish the half.
Washington returned to their first quarter play, extending their lead almost to 20 points as Ariza continued to feast from behind the arc. However, the Pacers' defense started stepping up and their offense followed suit behind Lance Stephenson's 9 points in the quarter. They cut the deficit to six points with a minute left, leaving them on a strong run going into the fourth quarter.
With the Wizards bench trying to keep rein in the Pacers' run, coach Randy Wittman brought back his starters. Bradley Beal was electric, hitting an unguardable three from the corner and adding another one shortly afterward, to keep the Pacers down by double-digits. Drew Gooden also proved to be a difference-maker, muscling his way into the offensive paint for rebounds and putbacks. Roy Hibbert finished with zero points and zero rebounds. Again. The Pacers had a late flurry of threes, but Washington hit their free throws to clinch the victory.
And so the Pacers continued to play like deserving underdogs despite being the top seed and the Wizards played from behind for only 15 seconds (in the second quarter) of a convincing Game 1 win.
It doesn't look like Larry Bird will stop looking glum any time soon.