Official Game Thread: Wizards at Hawks (Hump Day, 7 PM Tip!)


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“I promise, I can’t catch your Per-Game Assists lead. Have you thought about taking off a day to rest your hamstrings?”

 

Hump Day Tidbits!

The Atlanta Hawks could win out and, by virtue of a theoretical three-way tie with the Knicks and heat at season’s end (“Division leader wins tie from team not leading a division,” sayeth the league office), secure homecourt advantage in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs. At State Farm Arena, they’ll again host a Washington Wizards team practicing the spoiler role this evening (7 PM Eastern, Bally Sports Southeast and 92.9 FM in ATL, NBC Sports Washington, ESPN) and, the Wizards hope, beyond.

Banner Szn! The division-winner thingie takes precedence as a three-way tiebreaker over head-to-head winning percentage (it’s the reverse when dealing with two-way tiebreakers). Because of it, Atlanta is in the odd position of hoping, if the Knicks get back on the horse after falling in OT last night to the Lakers and go 3-0, that the heat go 3-0 as well. Of course, none of this is likely to matter if the Hawks (38-31) don’t address their ballhandling and defensive flaws versus Washington, or if they slip up when Orlando and Houston pay visits to The Farm tomorrow and on Sunday, respectively.

Monday’s 125-124 win over the visiting Wizards was a bit too close for comfort, but our Hawks could use just a little more last-minute tension. Only Utah (3-2), Cleveland (4-2), and Houston (3-3) have closed out as few games with a margin of three points or less as Atlanta (3-3). Comparatively, the Wizards (11-8) hold the NBA’s Cardiac Kids crown, with well over one-fourth of their contests and five of their last six games ending within a long-distance bucket one way or the other. It’s why the white-knuckle conclusion to Monday’s action served as a great learning opportunity for the Hawks.

In addition to “winning-home-games” practice, tonight is “series-sweep” practice for Atlanta. The Wizards have seized at least one win from the Hawks in every season since 2011-12, a time when Jordan Crawford was arguably John Wall’s most talented teammate.

Historically, Washington has never beaten any team more than Atlanta, but they still have a losing record all-time against the Hawks. According to the team’s Game Notes, the Wizards’ next victory over Atlanta would be their 150th, but the Hawks have won 158 in this decades-long rivalry. A harried Russell Westbrook’s inability to finish off Monday’s historic night with a likely game-clinching three-pointer made the Wizards’ race to Win #150 have to last at least a couple days longer.

I’m going to use this space to praise The Commish for the Play-In concept, particularly now that the Hawks’ chance of appearing in it is virtually zero. The only people whining loudly about it are owners, players, and fans of teams that might have to win-to-get-in to reach the Playoffs, particularly those that never, in their wildest nightmares, imagined their teams being in this situation. Even the high-profile whiners make for good publicity.

The Play-In prospect (or, specter, depending on one’s perspective) has given fans of subpar teams much more reason to watch end-of-season games, in the event their team’s seasons may not actually be ending. You think you can take out a top-two seed, subpar team? Prove your worth, first, by eliminating another subpar team or two. Brilliance.

No one around the DMV is wringing their hands over the dwindling chances of getting Rui Hachimura and the injured Deni Avdija another low-lottery playmate. The Wizards (32-37, 1.0 games behind 8-seed Charlotte) still have little reason to shift to cruise-control through the remainder of their schedule (after tonight, they go home to host the Cavs and the Hornets). Their next win formally clinches the Play-In appearance, although the 11-seed Bulls are highly likely to lose a game so long as their final two opponents, Brooklyn and Milwaukee, bother to show up.

Washington can neither edge Boston (35-34) in a two-way tiebreak scenario, having lost two of three against the free-falling Celts, nor in a multi-team scenario due to its poor in-conference record (14-25 vs. NBA East), and thus can no longer finish any higher than 8th. But any Play-In seed is better than #10, so the Wizards will want to win out, too, and enter next week’s extra game(s) hot with Bradley Beal (out again tonight, strained hammy) on the mend.

The Hawks will go back to resting De’Andre Hunter (injury-return management) in hopes he’ll be able to build up his performances against the Magic and/or Rockets (as playoff practice, I’d have rather Dre face the Wiz again, then sit out tomorrow, but that’s why they pay the training staff the big bucks). As of this afternoon, Tony Snell is listed as available after being a late scratch on Monday due to a sore Achilles, while Kevin Huerter is available after being previously listed probable because of a sore hip.

Tightening up the defensive effort, particularly in the second half (45 4th-quarter points by WAS on Monday), would make tonight’s proceedings easier on the Hawks, but it’s not like a lot of teams have figured out how to cool off the Wizards lately. Since getting throttled in Phoenix without the services of Beal on April 10, Washington has exceeded 115 regulation points in 16 of their past 17 games, the exception being a 117-115 OT win over New Orleans last month.

As fantastic and worthy of flowery ink as Westbrook has been, he is shooting at a 38.8 FG% clip over the past three Wizards games, 32.2 3FG% and 73.3 FT% over those past 17 contests. Opponents are getting suckered into dragging extra defenders onto Russ (21 assists, incl. 10 in the final quarter; 3 TOs @ ATL on Monday), particularly on his drives and coming off screens, under the guise that his acrobatic finishes and off-bounce perimeter attempts are more damaging than anything Davis Bertans (5-for-9 3FGs, 4-for-5 in the tide-shifting 4th quarter when Russ’ teammates made 6 of 7 threes) or Ish Smith could provide.

His Atlanta counterpart, Trae Young (1-for-7 3FGs, 0 steals, 6 TOs vs. WAS) led the Hawks with 36 points and 9 assists, and finished at +18 alongside Atlanta’s superior starters, but the superstar guard could stand to do more to keep Westbrook’s Wizards at bay.

Bearing less of the burden to chase around Westbrook, Young must be more anticipatory of where the Wizard guard’s passes are headed. A combination of improved weakside communication and strong-side deflections or steals to induce turnovers should help Trae (3 steals in past 6 games, 2 of those vs. CHI eleven days ago) keep Washington’s revved-up offense from firing at all available cylinders.

Gleaning from Russ that the threat of his long-ball three is currently eclipsing the reality (27.8 3FG% in 6 games for Trae since his return from injury), Young needs to exploit shot-fakes to his advantage, avoid the hero-shot mentality when more efficient plays are available, and be more decisive with his handle and his passes in the early going.

After a balanced effort sunk the Suns last week, Atlanta’s bench brigade climbed back into its shell over the past two games, going a modest 5-for-14 on threes in Indiana last week before Monday’s droll showing (0-for-4 bench 3FGs vs. WAS, 9-for-21 FGs overall incl. 3-for-7 from Hunter). Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari are too ineffective with their defensive play to be inert for full games at the other end.

Hawks head coach Nate McMillan hasn’t tinkered much with a defensive-oriented backcourt tandem of Kevin Huerter and Kris Dunn (Sample Size Theater: +20.2 points per 100 possessions in their less-than-ten minutes sharing the floor). Tonight would be a good time to pair them together with some sweet-shooting forwards, including Gallo, Snell and the re-emerging John Collins (26.5 PPG, 69.0 FG% in last 2 games).

With or without Beal, the Wizards are going to get buckets, but just a little more defensive pressure and possession control, consistently applied, while keeping Westbrook off the free throw line and continuing to dominate the glass, is what it will take for Washington to relent.

DAYS SINCE A BEAL GOT PEEVED ABOUT A CURRENT OR FORMER HAWK: 1

 

Let’s Go Hawks!

~lw3

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Just remember, it's hard to beat a good team twice.  Washington's men are probably breathing fire after setting that record, only to see the game go by by.  Everyone knows that there's a lot riding on this one for both teams.  Hunter, who played last game, is being held out.  He will, instead, play tomorrow night in our back to back game.

When our shots are falling and out turnovers are few, we are very hard to beat.  When we turn over the ball a lot and can't buy, beg or steal a shot, we're doomed.

GO ATL HAWKS !!

:smug:

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Yes, the Cavs losers of 11 straight, are turrible and are missing like 9 players, including a couple decent ones. But after last night's third-straight loss, the Celts (Top-6 Magic Number: 1) are in Cleveland tonight without Kemba (injury management, no back-to-backs) and Marcus Smart (bruised calf). Clinching a No-Play-In seed is completely in the Hawks' hands. But, just in case... go Cavs!

~lw3

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6 minutes ago, ATLHawks3 said:

Curious about what adjustments we make in this game. Can't have another 4th quarter like we had last game.

We can't let the bench blow chunks without subbing them out.

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1 minute ago, JayBirdHawk said:

We can't let the bench blow chunks without subbing them out.

We also need Lou to get it going. If anything, let BG play some minutes at the point and let Lou just focus on getting buckets.

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3 hours ago, lethalweapon3 said:

The Atlanta Hawks could win out and, by virtue of a theoretical three-way tie with the Knicks and heat at season’s end (“Division leader wins tie from team not leading a division,” sayeth the league office), secure homecourt advantage in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs. At State Farm Arena, they’ll again host a Washington Wizards team practicing the spoiler role this evening (7 PM Eastern, Bally Sports Southeast and 92.9 FM in ATL, NBC Sports Washington, ESPN) and, the Wizards hope, beyond.

Banner Szn! The division-winner thingie takes precedence as a three-way tiebreaker over head-to-head winning percentage (it’s the reverse when dealing with two-way tiebreakers).

I’m Channing Tatum at :15- :21 after reading this. Uh huh 🤔 lol (nodding along like I get it).

Fantastic as usual lw3! Happy hump day to you too.

3 hours ago, lethalweapon3 said:

Tightening up the defensive effort,

Not to mention their sphincter 🤭 @JayBirdHawk

Edited by Spud2nique
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3 hours ago, lethalweapon3 said:

DAYS SINCE A BEAL GOT PEEVED ABOUT A CURRENT OR FORMER HAWK: 1

The gaze.. 🤨

Love itttttt win out let’s goooooo!!!! I’m ready to roll!

Go Hawks! :clap:

Edited by Spud2nique
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1 hour ago, Gray Mule said:

Just remember, it's hard to beat a good team twice.

Agreed. Call me crazy it I think we should give some extended minutes to Okongwu, Knight, and others who are hungry for minutes IF our starters are struggling. Hope they come in focused and understand what’s at stake though and go after it.

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Ya just looking at their lineup, they have 1 legit starter in Russ, maybe 2 with up and coming Hachi, we have 4, possibly 5 with Huerter. On paper we need to win, let’s see what happens on the court.

The line: ML Hawks -275 spread -7 o/u 238.5.

Oh man, I’m tempted to put down some on the ML. I’ve bet the Hawks twice this year, 1-1 and up $100 overall. 🤔 $137.50 to win $50 straight up. Awfully tempting. 
 

GO HAWKS!!!!!

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2 minutes ago, Spud2nique said:

$137.50 to win $50 straight up.

Screw it I hit the button it’s in. JUST WIN BABY BY 1 or 31, be nice if they wouldn’t make me sweat but whatever. 
 

LETSSSSS GOOOOOO! 
 

Either up $150 overall on Hawks after this or down $37.50 😂 ahhhhh GET IT!!!!

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1 minute ago, benhillboy said:

I’m slow to begin with, I don’t understand all these conflicting scenarios.  If we win tonight regardless of any other outcomes what we get?

Playoff berth, seeding wouldn't be determined yet though.

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Just now, benhillboy said:

I’m slow to begin with, I don’t understand all these conflicting scenarios.  If we win tonight regardless of any other outcomes what we get?

To not worry about the already-low risk of Playing-In next week. That's about it!

~lw3

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      Rebounding, after Capela and John Collins (10.3 series RPG, despite 4.0 personals/game), dime-dropping, after Trae, and defense, after Kevin Huerter (team-high 3 blocks in Sunday’s 113-102 loss, which only scratches the surface of how good he looked) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (2.3 SPG), are near-binary in numerical production among the remnants of the Hawks’ cast.
      Hawks coach Nate McMillan could do well to consider going big earlier, introducing Danilo Gallinari as a quick sub for Bogi (listed as probable ahead of Game 4), and preserving the swingman’s weary knee for crucial defensive stops later in the contest. Bogdanovic played through Sunday’s entire final quarter but was a defensive non-factor as Middleton (20 4th-quarter points in Game 3, incl. 4-for-6 3FGs) ignited to help Milwaukee surge ahead for good.
      It wasn’t the playoffs, but two months ago, a Hawks team without Young available caught Giannis and the Bucks slipping. One night after clobbering an injury-and-illness-riddled Sixers team at home, Milwaukee flew to Atlanta and was feeling good after entering the fourth quarter up by 8 points. As was the case on Sunday, Middleton heated up in the final frame as well, with 12 of his 23 points. But so did Atlanta’s Bogdanovic and Lou Williams from beyond the 3-point arc (combined 8-for-9 3FGs).
      Meanwhile, Capela and fill-in starter Solomon Hill did just enough on that April evening to contain Antetokounmpo, while Buck teammates were of little use, at either end, on the back end of their back-to-back. In Game 3, the revelatory rookie Onyeka Okongwu showed he could serve Hill’s defensive role well, and maybe not just in a pinch.
      Whether Young (6-for-14 3FGs in Game 3; listed as questionable, bruised foot) is fully functional, fully productive, fully available, or not, some of the Traemates have to catch fire from outside if Atlanta intends to fully recover in this series. The Otherhawks (4-for-19 3FGs in victorious Game 1, 7-for-31 in Game 2) were by default a series-best 9-for-23 on non-Trae treys in Game 3, skewed downward by Bogi’s 2-for-10 outing, and are 21-for-70 in this series overall. Having the proper personnel getting back on defense is essential, too, whenever the Bucks aren’t retrieving Atlanta’s jumpshots from the bottom of the net.
      Hopefully, Young will be available to help the Hawks wage a fairer fight with Antetokounmpo and company tonight, earning Atlanta a guaranteed third home game in these conference finals while staving off the potential for elimination on Thursday in Wisconsin.
      In so doing, the Hawks will also have staved off what looked to be, on Sunday night, another Jenga moment for Atlanta Sports history. Also, it is hoped, we’ll get through the summer offseason without any others unfolding.
      John, if you get a call in a few weeks about a business opportunity from the Sultan of Brunei, please, just hang up the phone.
       
      Let’s Go Hawks!
      ~lw3