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.
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.
Road team recaps: BF StoryStream | SB Nation | Washington Post (gamer, sidebar, Wise column, best-and-worst) | Washington Times | AP | CSN Washington (recap, sidebar) | Truth about It | Wiz of Awes | Hoop District | DC Pro Sports Report | NBA.com | Sports Illustrated | New York Times | Ball Don't Lie | USA Today (recap. sidebar) | ProBasketballTalk | CBS Sports | Wizards.com | Monumental Network
Home team recaps: Blog A Bull | Chicago Tribune (gamer, sidebar) | Chicago Sun-Times (gamer, sidebar, column) | ESPN Chicago (recap, gamer, sidebar) | CSN Chicago (recap, sidebar, notes) | AP | Daily Herald (recap, sidebar) | Pippen Ain't Easy (recap, sidebar) | Chicagoist | Da Windy City | Bulls.com
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
Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) April 20, 2014
Would not surprise me if we saw Melee A Nene at some point in this series.— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) April 20, 2014
So @JoakimNoah may be the next Def Player of Year but Nene is eating his Poly Prep school lunch.— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) April 20, 2014
Just saw like four people put ketchup on a hot dog and now I've decided to root for the Wizards.— Kelly Dwyer (@KDonhoops) April 21, 2014
Please be seated for lecture. Professor Miller has set down his briefcase and coffee mug.— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) April 21, 2014
Professor Miller's having some trouble getting the powerpoint loaded, but as soon as someone from I.T. arrives, IT IS ON.— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) April 21, 2014
Andre Miller be like "PUT THE TEAM ON MY BACK. WAIT. SPASMS. Get off for a minute. Okay. Get back on. Let's do this" #WizBulls— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) April 21, 2014
Really like the Wizards in this series. A healthy Nene changes everything for them— Gary Payton (@GaryPayton_20) April 21, 2014
"BlarghgheBarhgh. GwarhGhgjhsjdBwlargleGar." - Tom Thibodeau— netw3rk (@netw3rk) April 21, 2014
Old man Andre Miller w 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting killing Bulls guards...great back door plays w Nene and Gortat...confusing Bulls def...— Michael Wilbon (@RealMikeWilbon) April 21, 2014
Andre Miller is the One Ring. Corrupts whichever coach puts him on the floor, never wants to take him off. "My veterannnnnnn...."— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 21, 2014
I'm getting steamed up. #Wizards— chad dukes (@chaddukes) April 21, 2014
NENE BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH BRUH— WzzzzzzzNtzzzzzzzzzz (@wzzntzz) April 21, 2014
Nene done run outta gas. Then he remembered who died for our sins— McCarrick (@McCarrick) April 21, 2014
@BulletsForever It's hilario watching Bulls trying to check him.— Chris Schaffer (@ChrisSchaffer3) April 21, 2014
IM RUNNING OUT OF THOUGHTS TO TYPE HATSOWJWGSGISMAJQLPZCHXSGANKAPDKBSJALLZYSJSNMS— B Mendoza (@mrbmendoza15) April 21, 2014
If anyone in my apartment building is listening, please don’t issue me a noise violation.— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) April 21, 2014
Can we build a statue of Nene outside Verizon in time for Game 3?— Andrew Sharp (@andrewsharp) April 21, 2014
No matter what, Randy Wittman always looks like he just got infected with the 28 Days Later rage virus.— netw3rk (@netw3rk) April 21, 2014
The Washington Wizards have never lost an NBA playoff game with Otto Porter.— Casual Hoya (@CasualHoya) April 21, 2014
So wizards may take game one in which both stars were Mia. That's gotta burn Chicago's britches— McCarrick (@McCarrick) April 21, 2014
But, but the #wizards are so inexperienced...— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) April 21, 2014
Teds Take tomorrow be like http://t.co/Khi2B9aQYZ— WzzzzzzzNtzzzzzzzzzz (@wzzntzz) April 21, 2014
Can we all agree on calling Jimmy Butler "The Chimney" because he shoots bricks and his game is full of holes. @BulletsForever— Greg Gottfried (@gott31) April 21, 2014
The Bulls are really mad at the Nets right now.— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) April 21, 2014
Officially cised #Wiz— Eric Bickel (@EBJunkies) April 21, 2014
Where are all the Bulls trolls predicting sweep now??? # chirpchirp #crickets— John Auville (@moneymetalcakes) April 21, 2014
All my clothing is in a bonfire. #Wizards— danny rouhier (@funnydanny) April 21, 2014
I want to stand up on a rooftop and yell this: The Washington Wizards just won a playoff game!— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) April 21, 2014
Fantastic win for the Wiz. Great to see Nene play so well on both ends. Thought Wiz did some subtle, nice things on offense.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) April 21, 2014
Professor Miller with some extended late semester office hours tonight.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) April 21, 2014
@LukeRussert they gon shake it off . Thank Goodness for NeNe today. John n Brad gon cook next game— Wale Folarin (@Wale) April 21, 2014
Amazing photo (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) pic.twitter.com/xB1gUyQLYS— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) April 21, 2014
We were harping on #Wizards missing 9 FTs in 1st half but made all 2nd half attempts (Ariza missed but didn't count due to lane violation)— Ward Watkins (@PhoneBoothWiz) April 21, 2014
Late tweet but Randy Wittman is undefeated in the postseason #dcRising— Albert L. (@aleeinthedmv) April 21, 2014
I bet #Wizards fans are not complaining about those regular season games Nene missed now....very impressive win team looked good— Etan Thomas (@etanthomas36) April 21, 2014
"Middle of the night, I started thinking about what I'm going to do, how I'm going to defend." #PassionOfTheNene— Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks) April 21, 2014
Most embarrassing stat ever: Kirk Hinrich has lost five straight playoff games against the Wizards.— Jake Whitacre (@jakewhitacre) April 21, 2014
Big win!! Can't be satisfied.— Trevor Booker (@35_Fitz) April 21, 2014
2 yrs ago, @WashWizards finished 15 games out of the playoffs. Tonight, they're 15 victories from the NBA title. That's a long way in 2 yrs.— David Elfin (@davidelfin) April 21, 2014
That was the first time WAS won Game 1 of a playoff series since April 18, 1986, when the Bullets won, 95-94, at PHI.— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) April 21, 2014
How shrewd do the Nene, Gortat and Miller acquisitions look now? They basically carried the #Wizards down the stretch in Game 1. Huge.— Daniel Shiferaw (@dshif) April 21, 2014
VIDEO/GIF OF THE NIGHT