The NBA playoffs are finally here, and Sporting News intends to provide you with every news item that is fit to post in a live blog.


RECAP: Bradley Beal came on strong late in regulation to finish with 26 points, Nene scored six of his 17 in overtime and the Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 101-99 Tuesday to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.

Washington rallied from 10 down in the fourth quarter after blowing a 17-point first-quarter lead.

11:25 pm: The Bulls pulled away from the Wizards for a 75-70 lead when they contained John Wall and created offense through defense. That has to be the formula for them to win, and that was the case in the third quarter.

Chicago outscored Washington 26-14 in the third quarter, mostly because they played better on the screen and rolls. Wall and Bradley Beal both pose such a threat in those sets that the Wizards went to it often to build their halftime lead. That didn't stand, however, when Chicago keyed in on the action.   

11:00 pm: It's no surprise that the Chicago Bulls struggle scoring the ball. Their best offensive player, Derrick Rose, was diagnosed as out for the season with a torn meniscus and the second was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

The Bulls rallied around Joakim Noah, the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year. Their identity comes from him, and the fact that there is little offense surrounding him is problematic. 

Noah doesn't provide serious scoring punch, but he can make defensive plays that put capable offensive players in position to convert. That has happened at times, but it's hard to sustain any lead for a long amount of time without scoring. That could be what does in the Chicago Bulls. 


9:00 pm:  Now, this is what we expected from the Pacers. Indiana used defense to get out to an 18-point lead on the Atlanta Hawks. Their success came when there was a clear commitment to stopping the Hawks' dribble-drive and protecting the rim. No play encapsulated that better than when Ian Mahinmi and Paul George both blocked Sheldon Mack's layup attempt. 

8:00 pm: Luis Scola took less money and fewer opportunities to play a role on the Pacers in the playoffs. His season hasn't exactly turned out as expected, but

here he is provided valuable minutes with Indiana needs it most. 

When the Pacers offense was no longer muddied by Roy Hibbert post-ups, Scola came off the bench to score 13 points in nine minutes and fuel a comeback that brought Indiana within three. They now trail, 40-37, after a big 3-pointer from C.J. Watson. 

7:37 pm: It was clear from the start that Indiana was much more engaged for Game 2 than it had been in the previous meeting. Problem is, much of that focus has come on the offensive end of the ball and the Pacers still can't stop dribble penetration. Jeff Teague gave them problems with his driving ability in Game 1 and he's done the same tonight, even with Paul George defending him. 

We assumed Teague's speed was the reason for his success, then Lou Williams, who has similar moves but less speed, came off the bench and had the same success. He knocked down a lightly-defended 3-pointer and put in a floater on the baseline. Indiana has to play better on-ball defense and clog the lane to gain any separation from Atlanta. 

7:00 pm: In order to address the Pacers' struggles, one must first address the fact that Indiana hasn't been a very good basketball team in the past few months. 

Their problems started long before the Game 1 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, but there was this pervading thought that they would turn things around once the postseason kicked off and their record hit 0-0 once again.

That wasn't the case in a 101-93 loss to Atlanta, because there is no on-off switch. Indiana built its reputation on defense, but on Saturday Jeff Teague and Paul Milsap had their way, and Pero Antic presented a mismatch for Roy Hibbert.

If Indiana is to avoid a 2-0 hole tonight, they will do so with defense. Hibbert's past claims about teammates shouldn't be an issue because points should come off defense. That said, Paul George's offensive struggles can't continue. While the Indiana defense is the most important factor, his ability to be the best player on the floor is a close second. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.