Apr 19, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) and Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) celebrate while leaving the court after their game against the Atlanta Hawks 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
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The Washington Wizards took their first loss in the third game of this aggressive Eastern Conference Round 1 series against the Atlanta Hawks.
The Washington Wizards would never have a lead during Game 3 against the Atlanta Hawks and ultimately came up short. In their first loss of the series, with a final score of 116-98, the Wizards may have overworked themselves.
They fell behind fast and early, and were unable to cause turnovers as frequently as they had during the first two games of the series.
John Wall showed up, but the starting squad played lackadaisical defense and couldn’t buy a shot to fall. The Wizards lost their first game of the series, no need to panic right? Well, this team looked more like the one of old—the one that struggled during the first half of the regular season.
Let’s take a look at what went wrong for the Wizards during Game 3, and what they can improve upon going into Game 4.
John Wall Needs Help Even If He Is Playing Like A Superstar
For the third time in the series, John Wall led by example, finishing with high numbers and even higher percentages. On the night, Wall played 31 minutes, scoring 29 points and shooting 10-for-12 from the field and 1-for-1 on 3-point field goals.
He’s currently tied for the second-best 3-point shooting percentage during this year’s playoffs at 71.4 percent with Deron Williams. John Wall is also ranked fourth in assists with 10.0 this postseason, and just 0.7 separates him from first place, where LeBron James sits.
Wall had a great night, though it’s hard to win when it looks like a game of one against five. Wall scored 29 points on the night, while as a collective, the other four starters only scored 30.
This is a far cry from how the Washington Wizards looked during the first two games of this series. While they’re up 2-1 in the series, this game was never close and was hard to watch at times.
Sometimes, these games happen and the shots just simply wont fall, Atlanta played well on the night and they deserve the credit for this one.
Bradley Beal is an excellent guard to match with John Wall and have proven to be one of the better guard duos in the league. In this series believe it or not he is leading the Wizards with 23.1 points per game. However his performance in Game 3 was by no stretch of the imagination good. Shooting 6-for-20 from the field and missing all six attempts from beyond the arc, its hard to look past his rushed and forced shot selection at times.
Along with his shot not connecting all night Beal and the team shared another characteristic. The inability to play straight up defense and keep their man in front of them. The game from the start grew out of control quick, the Wizards were outscored 38-20 in the 1st quarter. The Wizards never saw a lead for the entire game, and John Wall was the only starter to score over 10 points.
Brandon Jennings is an under-rated point guard in this league, and proving useful off the bench for the Wizards lately. He is able to create for his teammates or himself no matter who is on the court. During Game 2 he brought the Wizards back to life with an impressive six point surge early in the 4th quarter. He nearly created the same atmosphere during the 4th quarter in Game 3, but Atlanta would not have any of it in their house.
Jennings finished Game 3 with 13 points shooting 4-for-6 from the field and 1-for-2 from beyond the arc. It is tough to say he needs more minutes on the court, even though he certainly deserves them. For any basketball fan not following Brandon Jennings know this. If he continues to produce this way it will only be a matter of time before being considered a starting point guard elsewhere. He spreads the court and controls the pace of the game very similarly to John Wall.
Watching Game 1 and Game 2 of this series, the Washing Wizards appeared patient and calculated. Marcin Gortat had two consecutive double doubles to start the series, in Game 3 he scored only 2 points. Shutting down Dwight Howard for the first two games also seems to have been taken for granted by Wizards fans. It looked like just an off night for everybody, but did the Wizards fluke the first two wins?
The Washington Wizards were out rebounded 50-to-42, and Atlanta was superior in sharing the rock with 26 assists to the Wizards 16. All bark and no bite was the story for the Washington Wizards during their first visit to Atlanta. The Hawks led in virtually every way of the game other than fast break points. If the Wizards wish to close out this series sooner rather then later, they ought to avoid outings that look or smell anything like this.
Respect is respect, and it should certainly be paid for Dennis Schroder on his huge effort in this series so far. John Wall is making his case for superstar status, for Denis Schroder to be playing on the competitive level seen so far is impressive. There is plenty of trash talk between the two, and its quite possible these two will be playing against each other for a long time. With that being said, shutting him down is a recipe for success. The Hawks gave themselves some life with this clear cut victory. They can still gain momentum.
The Washington Wizards do well when pushing the pace, but more of the physicality from Game 1 and 2 is what will break the Atlanta Hawks down. The Wizards bench has been inconsistent other than Brandon Jennings. Kelly Oubre Jr. has been disappointing but not terrible, despite being fined by the league for kicking the ball into the stands after Saturday’s game.
The Wizards just need to keep it together, they do have the advantage of being up 2-1 in the series.