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The Atlanta Hawks come in on a nice little run the last few games of the regular season. Defeating the # 1 seeded Boston Celtics and the #2 seeded Cleveland Cavaliers (twice actually) in three of their last five games. Definitely on a roll going into the playoffs, John Wall and the Washington Wizards come in relatively unknown to the rest of the country. What kind of team do they have?
Keys To The Game
The Hawks will definitely need to keep their mistakes to a minimum. Usually when this team loses, its because of their own doing. Atlanta will also need to attack the rim relentlessly. Get big on the inside and muscle their way to points in the paint is a must. It needs to be a priority to stay away from being “3 happy”, launching up ill-advised shots. The Hawks must control the boards and eliminate second chance points. Atlanta will need to keep their hands up against jump shooters and stay away from fouling. The Hawks are near the top of the league (2nd) only giving up 39.1 points per game in the paint, so the majority of the 104 ppg. that they give up comes off jumpers and free throws.
Wall is second in the NBA in assists and steals. He and his backcourt mate Bradley Beal have an identical 23.1 points per game average. Those two players will have to raise their game to another level of they hope to get past rd 1. Keep that inside outside thing going with wall driving to the hole and Beal providing the outside barrage. They will also need to get forward Markief Morris more involved. Their third leading scorer must provide more of a punch as the playoffs usually come down to who outshines who. Washington has to get better in the paint since they are middle of the pack in the NBA in points given up in the paint. They don’t have a player on their roster that averages one block per game. They will need to attack the Hawks guards and force them into turnovers as they are prone to do.
The X-Factor for Atlanta Hawks is Dwight Howard. Howard will have to control the paint on both sides of the court. Provide the rebounding and shot blocking he has been providing all season. He will have to pump it up on offense, make the Wizards respect him down low and force them to double team.
The X-Factor for is Marcin Gortat. Gortat is the “longest” player on the Wizards. He has to provide some sort of rim protection in a series where the opponent will most surely (try to) attack the rim.
Prediction: Hawks win series 4-2.