Big or small
The Wizards became a different team in the postseason when coach Randy Wittman starting using Paul Pierce at power forward with Otto Porter at the other forward slot, leaving just one true big man on the court. Once again in Game 5, that look outperformed the standard pairing of Nene and Marcin Gortat.
Pierce and Porter played 20 minutes together Wednesday night, one of 12 two-man combinations to receive at least 20 minutes. Their plus 22.3 net rating dwarfed all others.
Gortat and Nene were on the court together for 16 minutes. Their net rating, minus 25.3.
Washington's biggest issue defensively remains dealing with Paul Millsap and Al Horford because they have the size to overpower smaller defenders inside but the skill set to make bigger opponents suffer outside. The numbers - and the coach's perception - continue to indicate the Wizards are better overall going with the smaller group.
Two sides of Otto Porter
Part of what has made the second-year forward a postseason revelation involved his scoring punch, including his 3-point shooting. But after sinking 11 of 24 from deep during the first six playoff games, Porter is just 1 of 6 over the last two games and 4 of 17 overall. He didn't just miss bombs; Porter went 2 of 7 on layup attempts. Considering the Wizards aren't going with a particularly deep rotation at this point, they need contributions from everyone, but perhaps especially from those secondary options like Porter, who are often left open as the defense focuses elsewhere. It's expected that John Wall and Bradley Beal will get theirs. When Porter makes buckets, the offense goes to another level.
While some players see their overall game dip when the shots aren't falling, Porter's remains helpful. He grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds in Game 5. His net-rating of plus 7.1 (points scored/allowed over 100 possessions) was easily the highest among the six Wizards to play at least 28 minutes. The 6-foot-8 forward's length continues to bother shooters. His fill-in-the-gap style makes for a great fit with the team's established pieces. Simply put, when Porter plays, the Wizards are better.
Case in point, NBA.com John Schuhmann looked at players in the playoffs with the largest on-off court net rating differential. Heading into Wednesday's games, Golden State's Draymond Green is the clear leader on a list with notables like Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry and Blake Griffin. Look who checks in at seventh.
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) May 14, 2015
Just the facts
From Elias:Teams leading 3-2 in best-of-7 series: 234-41 series record (85.1%). This includes the first round of the 2015 playoffs.
If Wizards win, the will play the first Game 7 in franchise history since 1979 (Eastern Conference Finals at San Antonio, won 107-105)
Home Sweet Home?
The Wizards need a win Friday night at the Verizon Center to stay alive --- and snap a six-game losing at home in elimination games
2014 East Semifinals Pacers GM 6 - Loss
2008 East 1st Round Cavaliers GM 6 - Loss
2007 East 1st Round Cavaliers GM 4 - Loss
2006 East 1st Round Cavaliers GM 6 - Loss
2005 East Semifinals Heat GM 4 - Loss
1997 East 1st Round Bulls GM 3 - Loss
Washington shot 23.5 percent (4 of 17) on 3-pointers in Game 5. That's its lowest shooting percentage since March 2 (21 games).