Wall-Star Goes Hawk Hunting
On Friday night John Wall and the Wizards didn’t just beat the Hawks, they killed them. Well, that’s not exactly true. Entering the 4th quarter the Hawks trailed by a manageable 7 points (82–89). At one point the Hawks even got within 3 points of the Wizards, but once the 4th quarter came rolling around Optimus Dime hit the gas.
In the 4th quarter Wall outscored the Hawks 19–17 by himself. It was pretty special seeing him create the switch in the pick & roll (Typically getting Millsap onto him.), and using his athletic advantage in his favor. Early on in the night Wall used his penetration to create open looks for his teammates. His 8 assists created 21 points on a night in which the Wizards shot 10–24 from 3-land.
With the Hawks still kicking in the final quarter Wall took it upon himself to put them to sleep. Instead of flipping the ball to his teammates he used his explosiveness to get into the restricted area. When the Hawks responded by loading up the paint, Wall peppered in a handful of 18-footers. For his final act, Wall tore into the lane and converted the and-1 through Hawks’ wing Kent Bazemore. After the bucket, Wall said his goodbyes by waving to the Atlanta crowd.
John Wall’s 42 PTS/8 AST/4 STL night lead the Wizards to a 115–99 win over the Hawks. This was the 4th win of the series for the Wizards, and they are set to face Isaiah Thomas and the Boston Celtics in the conference semifinals.
Bradley Beal Got Buckets
On a night that was seemingly all about John Wall, Bradley Beal did his best to compliment Wall. Some would compare the Wizards’ backcourt to Batman and Robin, but they are much more of a 1A/1B duo than they are a hero/sidekick duo. Beal finished the night with 31 PTS on 11–17 FG/2–3 3P/7–8 FT. His ability to curl off a screen, reset, and attack with a pick & roll while the defense resets is immensely valuable.
When Beal was on the court the Wizards had a net rating of +43.9, which was tops on the team. They were firing on all cylinders offensively, posting a flaming 128.9 offensive rating when Beal was on the floor. 2 man lineups featuring him and Wall posted a net rating of +57.5 in the 31 minutes they shared on the floor. When both him and Wall are playing that well there isn’t much a defense can do.
Millsap Great Despite Defeat
Let’s give Paul Millsap a round of applause. Millsap had the daunting task of keeping this awful offense afloat (102.3 OFFRTG, 27th) on only 2 minutes of rest. Coach Mike Budenholzer didn’t have much choice, as the Hawks had a net rating of -212.8 in the 2 minutes he sat out. On the night he had 31 PTS/7 AST/10 REB/4 STL/1 BLK/6 TO on 13–23 FG/1–5 3P/4–4 FT. He was the spearhead for the Hawks’ offense, attacking mostly from the high post. When receiving passes from Millsap, teammates faired well. On 12 assist opportunities the Hawks made 7 shots, and scored 18 points on those shots. The Wizards showed him soft-doubles all night, and he took advantage of the passing lanes created.
Hawks Struggle When Deploying Dwight Howard
Things started off relatively well for both the Hawks and Howard, as D12 had 9 points and 5 rebounds in the 1st quarter. Unfortunately for both parties, the Hawks still trailed 23–30 after one. That was as good as it was going to get for Howard. In the final three quarters he failed to score a single point, and was stripped of the basketball multiple times when he was in close proximity to the basket. Overall, he had 5 turnovers on the night, and was a space killer. His performance on the defensive side of the floor was legitimately bad.
There were several occasions where Howard failed to step-up to contest pull-up jumpers out of the PnR. Whatever the cause or reason was, he was moving like a statue. The Hawks’ defensive rating when Howard was playing was 131.2, and when he was sitting out it was 105.6. The lineup combos that Washington used caused issues all night long for Howard and the Hawks. His net rating on the night was -38.9. When he was on the bench that number jumped up to +5.4.
All statistics are from nba.com.