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Preview: Pacers (56-26) at Wizards (44-38)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Date: May 15, 2014 8:00 PM EDT
  

WASHINGTON (AP) - It's unclear exactly when John Wall got his mojo back. Maybe it started on the plane ride to Indianapolis, when he watched movies and remained unusually quiet while thinking to himself: 'If we lost this series, I'd put it all on my shoulders.'

Maybe it was before the game, when he confessed his frustration to Randy Wittman and was promptly admonished by the coach: 'He was like, `I never want to hear you say that ever again, because I know how confident you are in yourself and I know how competitive you are.''

Maybe it was when teammate Marcin Gortat, who had also been struggling in the series, pounded Wall on the chest after the starting lineups were announced and offered support 'no matter what.'

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One thing is clear: If the Washington Wizards manage the improbable and overcome a 3-1 series deficit against the Indiana Pacers, the turning point will be the moment their All-Star point guard stopped playing like a playoff novice.

'You can get down on yourself pretty easy,' Wall said.

Unable to hit a shot or come through in clutch late-game situations in the first four games, Wall was all over the stat sheet in Tuesday's Game 5 rout: 27 points, five rebounds, five assists, five turnovers. He and the Wizards stayed alive, but only one-third of the would-be comeback is complete as they return home for Thursday's Game 6, trailing 3-2 in the series.

To get it done, they'll need similar efforts from Wall, whom teammates have dubbed the Wizards' 'head of the snake.'

'For the first time in 102, 103 games that we had this season, I seen this guy that didn't want to talk to anybody,' Gortat said. 'He didn't want to interact with anybody. He didn't rap before the game. He didn't laugh before the game. I guess it's just a lot of things around basketball that has influence on him. ... But at the end of the day, I'm with him. End of the day, I'm going to jump in the fire behind this guy.'

Wall was 16 for 51 from the field, including 1 for 11 from 3-point range, in the first four games. The pressure of the postseason seemed to get the better of him when he unwisely rushed a shot or two and got stripped late in Game 2, then passed up a wide-open 3-pointer that would have tied Game 4.

Still to be determined is whether he has solved his late-game jitters - Tuesday was a 23-point win, so he sat almost the entire fourth quarter - but he finished 11 for 20 from the field in Game 5, including 3 for 6 behind the arc, and he ran the floor with authority.

Wittman said he told Wall before the game: 'You go out there and play as aggressive as you can at both ends of the floor and don't worry about mistakes, and don't worry about made or missed shots. You've got to be aggressive.'

'When he's tentative,' Wittman added, 'that's not John.'

Game 5 was a change of pace on many fronts. For one, the Wizards realized that halftime is only 15 minutes long. After losing the third quarter by an average 10 1/2 points through the first four games, Washington pulled away with a 31-14 third period.

Gortat, barely a presence in Games 3 and 4, again proved worthy of his 'Polish Hammer' nickname with 31 points and 16 rebounds. The Wizards' rebounding margin of plus-39 (62-23) tied for third highest in NBA playoff history.

'We should never get outrebounded by 40,' Indiana's Paul George said. 'It was like their life was dependent on those rebounds.'

Now the Wizards have to figure out how to bring the road show home. They are 5-1 away in this year's playoffs and just 1-3 at the Verizon Center.

'Everybody knows how we play at home. Quite honestly, we struggle at home,' Gortat said. 'It's going to be huge pressure.'

Much of the pressure will again be on Wall, with the Pacers attempting to stop the mojo revival and avoid a Game 7.

'John actually hit some shots and things like that,' Indiana's George Hill said. 'As a guard I've got to get better and try to make it tough on him again, and not let him get off like that.'

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

 SERIES AT A GLANCE
GAME 1
Wizards at Pacers
Mon, May 5 Final 102 to 96
 Recaps
GAME 2
Wizards at Pacers
Wed, May 7 Final 82 to 86
 Recaps
GAME 3
Pacers at Wizards
Fri, May 9 Final 85 to 63
 Recaps
GAME 4
Pacers at Wizards
Sun, May 11 Final 95 to 92
 Recaps
GAME 5
Wizards at Pacers
Tue, May 13 Final 102 to 79
 Recaps
GAME 6
Pacers at Wizards
Thu, May 15 Final 93 to 80
 Recaps

 CURRENT LAS VEGAS LINE
 Team  ML   SPR   O/U 
 IND  +160   +4   181 
 WAS  -180   -4   
LAS VEGAS LINE MOVEMENTS

 CURRENT SPORTSBOOK LINE
 Team  ML   SPR   O/U 
 IND  +155   +4   181.5 
 WAS  -175   -4   
OFFSHORE LINE MOVEMENTS

 BETTING TRENDS
 Team  ML   SPR   O/U 
 IND  69%   61%   65% 
 WAS  31%   39%   35% 
BT MOVEMENTS

 NBA HEAD TO HEAD
 May 13, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 102 Cover: 28.5 
 IND 79 Under: 181 
 Tools:   Recaps
 May 11, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 IND 95 Cover: 6.5 
 WAS 92 Over: 187 
 Tools:   Recaps
 May 9, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 IND 85 Cover: 27 
 WAS 63 Under: 148 
 Tools:   Recaps
 May 7, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 82 Cover: 0.5 
 IND 86 Under: 168 
 Tools:   Recaps
 May 5, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 102 Cover: 10 
 IND 96 Over: 198 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 28, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 IND 78 Under: 169 
 WAS 91 Cover: 14.5 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Jan 10, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 66 Under: 159 
 IND 93 Cover: 17.5 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Nov 29, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 73 Under: 166 
 IND 93 Cover: 9 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Apr 6, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 IND 85 Over: 189 
 WAS 104 Cover: 23 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Jan 2, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 WAS 81 Cover: 3 
 IND 89 Under: 170 
 Tools:   Recaps

 NBA PREVIEWS
 Thursday, May 15
 
    Pacers at Wizards
8:00 PM EDT
    Thunder at Clippers
10:40 PM EDT
 
 
 
  
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