Playoff Pixels, Wizards vs Bulls (Game 1): Washington steals homecourt behind Nene's dominance

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Fueled by Nene's #doubleblessed ascension on Easter Sunday, the Wizards beat the Bulls at their own game and stole away Chicago's homecourt advantage with a gritty 102-93 win in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference playoff series.

Now that's how you kick off your first playoff series in six years, Wizards.

Who'd have thunk the Wiz could have gone into Chicago and pulled out a 102-93 win against the scrappy Bulls with John Wall and Bradley Beal combining to shoot 7-for-25 from the field?

Nene, that's who. Matched up against DPOY-candidate Joakim Noah, the Big Brazilian dominated to the tune of 24 points on 11-of-17 shooting, eight rebounds and three assists. On Easter Sunday, #NeneHasRisen.

After Nene, Andre Miller was perhaps Washington's second-most important player, racking up 10 points in 13 critical minutes during the majority of his team's second-half comeback. Nene combined with Marcin Gortat (15 points, 13 rebounds) to give the Wiz a decided advantage in the post, something even the most optimistic D.C. fans weren't predicting prior to tip-off. Trevor Ariza was the lone Wizard feeling his outside shot, scoring 18 points on 3-of-5 shooting from three.

And though they they didn't have the best shooting nights, Wall and Beal found other ways to contribute. Beal recorded a team-high seven assists to go with 13 points, and his second-half defense on D.J. Augustin helped limit Chicago's best offensive weapon to 3-for-15 shooting. Meanwhile, with his team down 64-51 early in the third quarter, Wall (16 points, six assists, six rebounds) sparked Washington's comeback by stealing the ball from Noah and racing upcourt for a dunk.

(H/T @HoopDistrictDC)

In the end, the Wizards ended up beating the Bulls at their own game, with stifling defense (the Bulls were held to 42 percent shooting), unselfish offense (the Wiz has 21 assists on 36 field goals) and rebounding (Washington won the battle of the boards 45-to-39). In addition, the Wizards have been one of the worst teams in the NBA in getting to the free throw line, but on Sunday they got to the charity stripe 35 times, and they made 26 of those attempts (74.3 percent).

So anyone silly enough to have predicted a Bulls sweep can put their brooms away. Having accomplished their first task -- taking a game in Chicago -- the Wizards are now in the driver's seat. At worst, they will return to D.C. tied at 1-1-, and face a five-game series with homecourt advantage.

At best...well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Just win Game 2, and Verizon should be hopping on Friday night.

KEY LINKS

Road team recaps: BF StoryStreamSB Nation | Washington Post (gamersidebarWise columnbest-and-worst) | Washington TimesAP | CSN Washington (recapsidebar) | Truth about ItWiz of AwesHoop DistrictDC Pro Sports ReportNBA.comSports IllustratedNew York TimesBall Don't Lie | USA Today (recapsidebar) | ProBasketballTalkCBS SportsWizards.comMonumental Network

Home team recaps: Blog A Bull | Chicago Tribune (gamersidebar) | Chicago Sun-Times (gamersidebarcolumn) | ESPN Chicago (recapgamersidebar) | CSN Chicago (recapsidebarnotes) | AP | Daily Herald (recapsidebar) | Pippen Ain't Easy (recapsidebar) | ChicagoistDa Windy City |  Bulls.com

Game highlights

Postgame interviews: Randy WittmanNeneJohn WallBradley BealTrevor ArizaMarcin GortatTom Thibodeau

KEY STATS

48.6 - Washington's shooting percentage against Chicago, which entered the playoffs with the second-lowest opponents' field goal percentage in the league.

6 - The Wizards rebounding advantage (45-to-39) against the Bulls.

13 - Assists recorded by the Bulls against the Wizards, on 34 field goals. Chicago averages 23 assists per contest.

TWEETS OF THE NIGHT

VIDEO/GIF OF THE NIGHT

(H/T @ScottSAllen)

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