Washington Wizards: 3 Keys To Victory In Game 3

Apr 19, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard Brandon Jennings (7) shoots the ball over Atlanta Hawks guard Jose Calderon (13) in the fourth quarter in game two of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 109-101 and lead the series 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Wizards controlled home-court, winning Games 1 and 2. Here are three keys to winning their first road game of the playoffs.

The Washington Wizards approach their first road game of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on Saturday. Game 3 will really test the Wizards’ poise with the Atlanta Hawks in desperation mode.

The Wizards’ 109-101 victory in Game 2 was a testament to their resilience on the basketball court. John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 63 total points and each of them did their fair share to get the victory. Wall had nine assists and five rebounds. Beal had three steals and three assists.

The Wizards’ starters were outscored by Atlanta’s this time around. But Washington’s depth showed with the play of Jason Smith, Bojan Bogdanovic and Brandon Jennings off the bench.

The second unit certainly outdid itself in this game, holding the Hawks’ bench to just 14 points. The Wizards bench scored 25 points of their own, led by Brandon Jennings’ 10 points. Jennings was crucial in Washington’s strong fourth quarter, scoring six points in the final frame. He led a comeback that saw the Wizards outscore Atlanta 35-23 in the final quarter of play.

Here’s how the Washington Wizards will look to the make it three straight victories in a row this Saturday evening.

Apr 19, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) shoots the ball as Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) defends in the first quarter in game two of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

3. Win The First Quarter

In the past two games, the Washington Wizards have jumped out to big leads only to lose them as the quarter comes to a close.

In Game 1, they trailed 29-25. They were down 24-23 after one in Game 2. Despite getting off to fast starts, the Wizards have been unable to close the door of opportunity on the Hawks at home. On the road, they’ll need to look to do so.

With home-court advantage, the Hawks are sure to come out firing on all cylinders in Game 3. The Wizards will need to be sure to keep their foot on the gas and win the first quarter. Winning the opening frame is huge in taking any hope Atlanta has left left in the tank.

This has been a very physical and closely-called series, with foul trouble being an important part of every game. The Wizards need to make sure they play as a team and maintain a healthy lead.

Apr 4, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) is fouled on his shot by Charlotte Hornets guard Nicolas Batum (5) as center Cody Zeller (40) defends in the third quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 118-111. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

2. Get Otto Porter Going Early

The Washington Wizards are allowing John Wall and Bradley Beal to take a high volume of shots. So far through two games, Wall is shooting 21-for-44. Beal is shooting 21-for-48. While both are shooting better than 40 percent, Otto Porter Jr.’s numbers have taken a huge hit.

There are definitely more assists to go around for Wall. Porter has taken just 13 shots in the first two playoff games, making five total.

Wall and Beal have got to find a way to get Porter going. He hasn’t been the same since the All-Star Break. He’s scored over 20 points just once since the break back on Mar. 8 against the Denver Nuggets. Since then, he hasn’t been his usual efficient self.

To seal a Game 3 victory, the Wizards need to look to get Porter going early with some open looks in sets. Adding what Porter can do to what Wall and Beal have already done this series would be icing on the cake.

Apr 19, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard Brandon Jennings (7) shoots the ball over Atlanta Hawks guard Jose Calderon (13) in the fourth quarter in game two of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 109-101 and lead the series 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

1. The Wizards Bench Need More Minutes With Certain Starters

The Washington Wizards bench looks like it is figuring things out on the fly in the 2017 NBA Playoffs. With Brandon Jennings, Kelly Oubre Jr., Bojan Bogdanovic and Jason Smith on the court, they’ve given the Wizards a different dynamic when either Wall or Beal are off the floor.

Between Jennings, Bogdanovic and Smith, the trio combined for 24 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks. Oubre Jr. was in foul trouble for much of Game 2, finishing with four fouls. If he can stay out of foul trouble in Game 3, he brings an athletic slasher the Wizards could really use off the bench.

Otto Porter is rebounding well, but his minutes have been limited with what others can do. If Game 3 is another quiet game from him, plugging a bench player or two in with the starters needs to happen.

Jennings’ mini-run during the fourth quarter was impressive as well, as he not only kept the Wizards in the game, but also kept other bench players like Jason Smith involved in the offense

If the Wizards can keep these keys in mind, they’ll be off to a 3-0 lead in no time and on their way to a first round sweep.

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