In Game 3, the Washington Wizards lost to the Chicago Bulls in their first home playoff game in six years. As they head into Game 4, the big story is on how they will compensate without Nene, who was suspended one game for head butting and grabbing Jimmy Butler's neck while in a scuffle.
But to me at least, the bigger question is this: How will this Wizards team respond to their first playoff loss in this series? Will they continue to play confidently and with a strong effort like they did this entire series, or will they come out lethargic? John Wall and Bradley Beal have so far been able to play rather loosely because they never played under the pressure of being behind in a playoff series. Sure, the Wizards are 2-1 right now, but there certainly is more pressure for them to win this game because they don't want to head to Chicago by losing two straight games at home.
What time is the game? Game is at 1 p.m. at Verizon Center. Check out our link to travel advisories for the game if you are heading there later today.
Where can I watch this game on television or listen to it on the radio? You can watch the game on ABC. In the Washington, D.C. area, that would be WJLA, Channel 7. Check your cable providers for the exact channel it is on your system. Comcast SportsNet will NOT play the game because it is available on general broadcast signals.
If you are listening to the radio, do so on WNEW 99.1 FM, not 106.7 the Fan, which will be airing the Washington Nationals game against the San Diego Padres.
Who will start in Nene's place? Which other big men help fill in the void? My guess is that Trevor Booker will start today. He started in Nene's place late in the regular season so he should be used to being in that role.
Replacing Nene's production and impact can't really be done by one person, so expect more big men to have expanded roles. Marcin Gortat will have a bigger role offensively. Drew Gooden and Al Harrington, both of whom have played sparingly during the playoffs, should also receive more playing time, and both have played admirably in the regular season while Nene was out. Maybe even Kevin Seraphin will have a cameo.
Any giveaways? #dcRising rally towels. Fans in the 100 level get red towels, 200 level fans get white towels, and 400 level fans get blue towels.
How does Ted Leonsis feel about the crowd during Game 3? As you might expect, Leonsis was very happy. On his blog Saturday, he wrote the following:
The crowd and fan support was world-class and most appreciated. The fans arrived on time, they roared from the National Anthem on, wore their T shirts in a united fashion, and truly were a part of a collective, strong and growing community.
Words can't express my enthusiasm for what I saw and experienced last night; we are all so grateful for your support and patience with us. Every player and coach on the team noted how loud and how passionate the atmosphere was last night. Thank you, and I look forward to a reprise on Sunday afternoon.
This video embedded below (click here if you can't see it) is certainly not a high moment overall for any D.C. sports fan because it is a press conference Saturday in regards to the dismissals of Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee and Head Coach Adam Oates after they missed their first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance in six years. During that press conference, Leonsis was asked about the Wizards at the 20:40 mark. At the 22:15 mark, he also gave his opinion on how Friday was to him in relation to the Capitals:
I made the comment to my wife last night ... [Game 3 against the Chicago Bulls] reminds me of the first game of the first playoff series when we played the [Philadelphia] Flyers, where you didn't know what to expect, and you walked and, and everyone was wearing red, and the building was loud, and the vibe was unbelievably strong. The promise, and hope and the fanbase was remarkable last night, and really grateful. And that's what we got for the Caps.
Let's hope that that environment stays at Verizon Center for Wizards games for the rest of the playoffs, and next season.
Which team wins? I think this team has what it takes to win and make it a 3-1 series. Let's win this one.