Despite Nene being suspended for his altercation with Jimmy Butler in Game 3, the Washington Wizards were able to pick up a victory over the Chicago Bulls in Game 4 to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. The final score of 98-89 does not tell the whole story, as the Wizards led wire-to-wire, jumping out to a 14-0 lead to start the game, and going up by as many as 23 points. A big reason for that was turnovers and perimeter play.
After allowing Mike Dunleavy to go off in Game 3, scoring 35 points and knocking down eight three-pointers, the Wizards made it a point of emphasis to slow him down this afternoon. That is exactly what they did, as Dunleavy scored only six points on 3-8 from the field. The Bulls as a whole struggled from the perimeter, making only 4-19 from the three point line.
On the other hand, the Wizards were led by Trevor Ariza, who poured in a playoff career-high 30 points with six three-point makes. Ariza set the tone early, scoring 11 points in the first quarter to get the Wizards the comfortable lead right from the start. The Wizards as a team made eight three-pointers on the night, connecting at a 42.1 percent clip.
The turnovers were the biggest differential in the game tonight. Looking at the stats, there aren’t too many differences between the two teams. The Bulls actually had a higher shooting percentage, but the Wizards were able to get out in transition and hurt them in the fast break.
The Bulls turned the ball over 16 times, resulting in 29 Wizards points. On the flipside, the Wizards turned the ball over only six times, which the Bulls converted into only eight points.
The fast break point differential was heavily in favor of the Wizards as well, as they outscored the Bulls 16-2 in transition. The easy baskets the Bulls afforded the Wizards throughout the afternoon enabled them to control the tempo and keep the lead at a point where the Bulls were never really able to threaten them.
The only Bull that was able to get anything going offensively was Taj Gibson. He took advantage of the Nene suspension, dominating throughout the game from 16-feet and in. Gibson went 13-16 from the field, making his first nine attempts, and finishing the game with 30 points. The rest of the team shot 22-62, equaling 35.5 percent. Trevor Booker, who started for Nene, was no match for Gibson, but he impacted the game in his own way with high energy play.
With the victory the Wizards have a stranglehold on the series, needing only more win to move onto the second round. Game 5 will be Tuesday in Chicago. Playing for their season, expect the Bulls to come out much stronger than they did today. Seeing the series back in Washington for Game 6 would not surprise anyone, but that is the furthest this series would go. The Wizards will protect their home court in Game 6 if they do not get the job done in Game 5.