Nene’s failed rebound attempt at the final horn wasn’t the only reason the Wizards lost Game 5 to the Hawks on Wednesday night. Shooting just 37 percent from the field and failing to capitalize on their opponent’s 23 turnovers; knocking down only four shots from long range; getting minimal production from their bench — those are all contributors too. But for the sake of argument, here’s Nene’s attempted rebound under a microscope.
Setting the Scene
With just eight seconds left in the game and trailing 80-78, the Wizards set up an awesome play to get Paul Pierce open in the corner and the Truth knocks down a three to give Washington the lead. Atlanta calls timeout. During the timeout, Nene comes in for Marcin Gortat.
The Hawks come out of the timeout, and with just under four seconds to go, point guard Dennis Schroder drives the lane to attempt a layup, a shot attempt in which John Wall blocks. The ball goes awry off the backboard and toward the waiting hands of one Nene Hilario.
A charging Al Horford enters the lane and snatches the rebound, Nene falls and clears out two teammates in the process, and Horford converts an easy layup with one second left. The Wizards lose.
Being upset with Nene as an initial reaction is understandable. I’m guilty of it too. But the frustration doesn’t begin and end with this specific play. His underwhelming performance throughout these entire playoffs has bugged fans and this final play of a losing effort was enough to make the weak sauce boil over.
Still shots also give you the impression that Nene had the ball in his hands. I’m again willing to put my emotions aside and recognize that 1) because you’re touching the ball doesn’t mean you’re securing possesssion and 2) watching the clip at full/live speed is really the only way to judge how much control Nene had of the ball.
But while on the topic of stills…
Again, the frustration with Nene doesn’t begin and end with this play. It was just the cherry on top. The Wizards dropped a winnable game for lots of reasons and they wasted feel-good moments like Pierce’s dagger three-pointer and John Wall’s heroics in the process. It all just really really stings.