Last night, the Atlanta Hawks finally dispatched of the eight seed Brooklyn Nets in the first round of this year’s NBA playoffs. It was by far their best game of the series, as they shot 51% from the field and made 13 three pointers. However, they should be very concerned for their next-round series against the Wizards. Here’s why.
First, the Wizards present the problem of size. The front line of Nene and Marcin Gortat, with their physicality and rebounding ability, will force Al Horford and Paul Millsap to pack it in in the paint and have to box out and give full effort on the glass for 48 minutes, every game. I just don’t know if they can continually handle the physicality if the series gets to and 6th and 7th game. Also, the Wizards have shooters on the perimeter as well, in Bradley Beal and Paul Pierce. They will test the defensive mettle of guards Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague. It remains to be seen who DeMarre Carroll guards, but it will most likely be Paul Pierce.
The Hawks like to hang their hat on their offense, and, in particular, their movement, passing, and team play in general. However, Washington tied for ninth in opponent points scored in the regular season and only gave up 96.3 points per game in their four-game sweep over the Raptors. This, again, is mainly due to the Wizards’ size in the paint and perimeter defense. This may very well force the Hawks to live and die by the three pointer, which may be an ineffective strategy, considering that they average nearly 32 threes a game and have made only 11 per game. for a 35.4% While this is tied for 6th in the playoffs, take a guess who has the #1 three point percentage in the postseason. It’s the Wizards.
As for those who would be more worried about the Hawks’ matchup with the Bulls or Cavailers, that’s probably accurate. However, the Hawks should be far more worried about the Wizards in this series. Don’t worry about the Bulls or Cavaliers yet, Hawks fans, because you may not get that far. Take the Wizards seriously.