"The Indiana Pacers advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight season by winning their series with the Washington Wizards 4-2. Washington had not reached the playoffs since 2008 before this season. The franchise still hasn’t won a second-round game at home since 1979, a stretch that was extended to 0-7 Thursday."USA Today:
It was an unusual series: The road team won every game except the second, won by the Pacers in Indianapolis. Wizards coach Randy Wittman joked before the game he wanted to put yellow giveaway T-shirts on the seats — instead of red, white and blue — so the arena looked more like Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
"Don't really have an answer for you. Just one of those things," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said before the game.
The fans recognized Washington's season with a standing ovation in the final minute. The Wizards showed tremendous growth this season, finishing 44-38 and securing the fifth seed in the East. They knocked off the Chicago Bulls in the first round and headed into the Indiana series with a legitimate chance to upset the Pacers.
Washington will head into the 2014-15 as a team capable of finishing in the top four in the East. In Beal and point guard John Wall, the Wizards have one of the best backcourts in the league, and they're expected to improve.
Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld has done a great job filling the roster with capable role players, but he faces challenges in the offseason. Forward Trevor Ariza and center Marcin Gortat — valuable contributors — are free agents this summer. Gortat has enjoyed his time with the Wizards, and his agent, Guy Zucker, attended several Wizards playoff games.
The Wizards must also develop rookie Otto Porter, who was injured for a stretch of the season and did not play many significant minutes.
Grunfeld also must decide how he will deal with Wittman, who is the final year of his contract. It is expected Grunfeld will reward him with an extension.