For anybody who missed most of the action from the Wizards this regular season, they have a chance to make a deep run in the playoffs. Here are a few reasons why they dominated Sunday afternoon.
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Welcome to Wall Street
John Wall decided for himself Sunday afternoon that he would not be stopped and played with an absolute fire on the way. For the afternoon, Wall finished with a playoff career-high of 32 points to go with 14 assists. He shot efficiently, hitting 12-of-24 overall and 2-for-4 from 3-point range.
At this pace, the Washington Wizards may make this a quick series. The Atlanta Hawks provided no answers to Wall pushing the pace, beating at times three men on a fast break.
Dennis Schroder had an effective offensive night, but was no match for Wall and this may become a problem for the remainder of the series.
Spreading The Love and Leading
Not only did John Wall hit for a career best for postseason points in a game, he led by example as teammates thrived without adding to the pressure. All five starters finished in double-figure scoring.
Otto Porter Jr. and Markieff Morris, with Porter hitting 1-of-2 from deep and Morris going 2-for-6, while Bradley Beal struggled from 3-point range, hitting 2-of-11, but still finished with 22 points.
Although Wall put on a show, this was an exciting game to watch, seeing each teammate making a healthy contribution.
It turned out to be a very long day for the Atlanta Hawks. The final score of 114-107 does not reflect how well the Washington Wizards dominated the floor. This game seemed to be out of reach well through the third quarter.
Not only did Marcin Gortat have a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, Dwight Howard was an non-factor. Howard finished the day with only seven points while still grabbing 14 rebounds.
Playing 27 minutes, Howard also had his team’s the worst plus-minus differential of minus-21.
Final Thoughts Heading Into Game 2
The Wizards are a serious force to be reckoned with on offense as John Wall attempts to lead the team to the promised land. It should be noted there were several occasions through the afternoon the Hawks sort of strolled their way into the paint effortlessly.
While it is easy to argue defense may not be as important when you can score as efficiently as the Wizards have been, this is only Game 1. There was plenty of physicality, which certainly wore down Atlanta through the afternoon, as Washington would go to the free throw line 39 times.
Kelly Oubre Jr. certainly gained some confidence during the fourth quarter and proved effective yet again coming off the bench. Scoring 11 points in 18 minutes is solid for his first career playoff game.
Brandon Jennings turned out to be key and effective once shaking off the first-half rust. Jennings would not score, but had five assists and three rebounds over 15 minutes played.
If the team can continue to play with continuity while controlling the pace of the game, the Wizards will be able to cruise through the Hawks.