Verizon Center | Game 2 | CSN+/NBATV | 7pm | 1500 AM |
Wizards: G - Wall, G - Beal, F- Porter, F - Morris, C - Gortat
Hawks: G - Schroder, G - Hardaway Jr., F - Prince, F - Millsap, C - Howard
Wizards: Mahinmi (calf) - Out
Game 1: Hawks 107 - Wizards 114
John Wall scored a playoff career high 32 points as the Wizards rallied from an early deficit to beat the Hawks in Game 1 on Sunday. Keef Morris added 21 points in his first career playoff game, while Bradley Beal finished with 22. Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 25 points.
What to Watch For
Game 2 Adjustments
One of the great things about a playoff series are the adjustments made by each side from game to game. Sometimes they are easy to see, such as a lineup change, and sometimes they are harder to pick up on, like altering tempo or changing coverage on a pick and roll. Bearing any injuries, it's a pretty safe assumption the Wizards won't be changing their starting lineup throughout these playoffs, but the Hawks have used a few different starting lineups throughout the season and they may choose to change up their rotation a bit in Game 2. One of their best defensive players, Thabo Sefolosha, didn't play in Game 1, but he could be a key to their perimeter coverage and could be used to try and slow down John Wall or Bradley Beal in Game 2. Coach Brooks seemed pleased with his team's shot selection and low turnovers, but wants to see them get to the foul line more often and keep Atlanta off the stripe, so that could be a point of emphasis heading into Game 2.
The playoffs always bring out a more physical style of play, as more is at stake and the intensity level gets cranked up. The Wizards were the more physical team in Game 1, which became a bigger storyline when the Hawks' Paul Millap said afterwards that his team were playing basketball, while the Wiz were playing MMA. The Wizards and Hawks have some history that dates back to the last time these two teams matched up in the playoffs and while it hasn't developed into a full fledged rivalry, it wouldn't be surprising to see the physicality in this series ramp up from game to game. The Hawks will want to send a message early in Game 2, so look for some physical play from Atlanta to match the Wizards' toughness.
Home Crowd a Key
A big part of the win was our crowd, it was great to see the atmosphere, the enthusiasm, it makes our guys want to play at another level of intensity." - Scott Brooks on the Game 1 win
The Wizards used their home crowd to jump out to an early lead on Sunday and then they played up the crowd in a dominating third quarter. It wasn't only Scott Brooks who noticed the extra energy in the building, but the players as well. Kelly Oubre Jr, who played in his first playoff game, said after the game that he felt the home crowd was a big piece to the Wizards' Game 1 win. Bradley Beal talked about how the home crowd deserved a winner and what a great feeling it was to have the city of DC behind this team. Home court advantage can sometimes be the difference in an evenly matched series and if the Wizards can gain an edge from their crowd, they will be tough to beat at Verizon Center.
Marcin Gortat vs. Dwight Howard
Marcin Gortat not only neutralized Dwight Howard in Game 1, but outplayed him, finishing with 14 points on 7/11 shooting, while Howard had just seven points on 2/6. Gortat's signature moment came late in the game when he threw down a viscous slam over Paul Millsap that not only counted for two points, but also sent a bit of a message to the opposition. This matchup will be magnified with Ian Mahinmi out of the lineup and Gortat knows he can't pick up cheap fouls as his big body is needed on the Hawks' center. Atlanta will need to get more out of their big man and may look to get him more touches as they try and even the series tonight.