Connect with us

NBA

Game 5 Preview: Washington Wizards vs. Atlanta Hawks

Buddy Grizzard breaks down the round one matchup between the Wizards and Hawks, and picks Game 5.

Buddy Grizzard

Published

on

With the Atlanta Hawks holding serve at home to tie its first round playoff series with the Washington Wizards 2-2, these teams are starting to look fairly evenly matched. To try to predict what may happen as the series becomes a best two out of three — starting tonight at 6 PM at Verizon Center in D.C. — we’ll start with a brief game-by-game recap of the series to this point, followed by a look at some key stats.

First the series recap:

Game 1: Wizards Starters Dominate, 114-107

The Wizards led the NBA during the regular season in instances of all five starters scoring in double figures. In Game 1, it appeared that Washington’s starting unit had asserted itself as a key factor for the series. All five starters scored in double figures, three scored at least 18 and John Wall dominated with 32 points and 14 assists. Four starters posted a plus-minus of at least +18.

By contrast, all five Hawks starters posted a negative plus-minus, four of them by double digits. Atlanta was only able to keep the game close because the bench outscored Washington’s 35-15. Both teams shot under 29 percent from three while Atlanta held a 39-17 advantage in free throw attempts.

Game 2: Wizards Survive “Double MMA,” 109-101

The Wizards appeared to seize control of the series as its back court dominated once again. Wall had 32 again with nine assists and Bradley Beal dominated Atlanta’s Tim Hardaway Jr. with 31 points and a +14 compared to the Atlanta shooting guard’s 19 points and a team-worst -20. This time Washington’s bench showed up, outscoring Atlanta’s 25-14.

Atlanta shot just 20 percent from three while the Wizards shot 32 percent. Washington pushed its advantage in blocked shots to 19-9 for the series while winning the rebound battle 43-41. Free throws were more even with Atlanta holding a 38-33 advantage in attempts. Paul Millsap had 27 points with 10 rebounds for the Hawks while Dennis Schroder scored 23. But it wasn’t enough to prevent falling into a 2-0 series hole.

Dwight Howard played only 20 minutes and did not appear after he checked out with 3:43 to play in the third. In a possible response to Markieff Morris’ “double MMA” comment, the officials called 55 fouls. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said he went with a “gut feel” in deciding to go small to match the Wizards as Washington closed on a 42-28 run with Howard out of the game.

Game 3: Hawks Show Up, 116-98

Game 3 marked a shift in the series with Atlanta finally showing the necessary mental focus. After committing 19 turnovers in Game 1 and 18 in Game 2, the Hawks committed only 11 in Game 3. Millsap scored 29 points with 14 rebounds. Schroder added 27 with nine assists and Atlanta’s starters ranged from Schroder’s +18 to Howard’s +24.

The Hawks jumped out to a 25 point lead in the first quarter and at times looked to make it a blowout, but Budenholzer had to call several timeouts to keep the Wizards from closing within single digits. Wall led Washington again with 29 points and seven assists, but all five Wizards starters posted a double-digit negative plus-minus.

Atlanta finally had a decent game from three-point range (36 percent) while the Wizards struggled (24 percent). The Hawks won the rebound battle 50-42 and attempted 32 free throws to only 20 for the Wizards. Atlanta dominated points in the paint 60-34.

Game 4: The Jose Calderon Game, 111-101

All five Hawks starters scored in double figures and Atlanta became the only team in these playoffs with seven players in double figures. But the real story was Jose Calderon’s +29 performance in 20 emergency minutes after Schroder picked up three fouls in the first quarter. Budenholzer was able to hold Schroder out until the start of the second half thanks to Calderon’s game-saving contribution.

Beal once again dominated with 32 points, while Wall’s 22 were his lowest output of the series. Atlanta’s three-point percentage ticked up to an impressive 39 percent while Washington shot a respectable 34 percent. Atlanta kept its turnovers low at 12 while free throw attempts and rebounds were fairly even. Taurean Prince became the first rookie in Hawks history to score in double digits in his first four playoff starts. Atlanta once again won the paint scoring battle 44-30.

Key stats

Wall has crushed the Hawks in transition, scoring 1.52 points per possession in 25 possessions. His efficiency in transition is second only to Normal Powell among players with at least 10 transition possessions in the playoffs. Interestingly it’s Beal — not Wall — who has excelled as the ball handler in pick and rolls (1.21 per, 29 possessions). Beal has also excelled with 1.09 points per on 23 possessions off screens. Schroder has been good in higher volume as the pick and roll ball handler (1.06 per, 49 possessions) and Wall has been fairly average (.91 per, 46 possessions).

Millsap has excelled in the post. He’s the only player in the series with at least 10 possessions in post isolation (19) and he’s scoring 1.05 points per. Howard’s one point per in eight post possessions is a vast improvement over the tepid .84 he scored during the regular season. However, after attempting nearly four post-ups per game in the regular season, Howard is attempting only two per game in the playoffs. No Wizards player has attempted more post-ups than Wall’s three, a sign that Howard’s presence at the rim has discouraged Marcin Gortat and Morris from isolating around the basket.

Game 5 Prediction

Simply put, the Hawks should be up 3-1 in this series heading back to Washington. With the officials whistle-happy in Game 2 after Morris’ “double MMA” comment, the Wizards were in deep foul trouble. But Budenholzer took his foot off the gas, failing to capitalize by punishing the Wizards inside with Howard. His decision to go with Mike Muscala in the fourth quarter over Howard harkens back to his head-scratching decision to stick with a hobbled, under-performing Jeff Teague during last year’s 4-0 sweep by the Cavaliers.

Schroder lit the Cavs up for 27 points on 5-for-10 three-point shooting in Game 1 before Budenholzer astonishingly declined to play him more than 15 minutes the next two games. Schroder finished the series with 21 points in Game 4, but it was too little, too late. Teague finished his Hawks career with a five point, two assist whimper. Had Budenholzer trusted in Atlanta’s youth movement sooner, it might be farther along.

Nevertheless, it is the Wizards who find their backs against the wall. Atlanta has already proven that it can play Washington close in its building. There’s no pressure on the Hawks, who can tie the series again in Game 6 at home if it loses Game 5.

But that won’t happen. The Hawks are going to play loose and confident and steal Game 5 on the road in Washington. The Wizards are too focused on winning the press conference and not focused enough on winning the series.

Buddy Grizzard has written for ESPN.com and BBallBreakdown and served as an editor for ESPN TrueHoop Network.

Advertisement




Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

NBA

Trae Young Believes He’s NBA Ready

Trae Young has exceeded expectations since his freshman year of college, and he believes he will continue to do so in the NBA

Matt John

Published

on

Before the collegiate season started, many believed that the best players in the upcoming NBA draft were going to be bigs. DeAndre Ayton, Mo Bamba, and Michael Porter Jr., all of whom were 6’10’’ or taller, were considered to be among the top prospects coming out of the NCAA, but Trae Young had something to say about that.

Coming out of high school, Young was regarded as one of the better incoming freshmen, but not among the best of the best. Young ranked no. 23 in ESPN’s top 100 in 2017 and was ranked third among point guards, behind Collin Sexton and Jaylen Hands, which led to low expectations for him. Young proved right out of the gate that he was much better than the scouts had rated him.

Young tore up college ball as an Oklahoma Sooner, as he averaged 27.2 points and 8.7 assists while shooting 42 percent from the field including 36 percent from three. While Young’s play made him stand out among his peers, it didn’t translate into much success on the court. The Sooners went 18-14 on the season and were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Now that the season is over, Young is shifting his focus to his next stop: the NBA. With the draft coming up in just a little over a month, only one word comes to mind when describing Young’s current mindset: Confidence.

“I bring a lot of things to the next level. I think I would bring an immediate impact off the court as much as I do on the court,” Young said at the NBA combine. “I can space out the defense. I can attack defenders in multiple ways, get my teammates involved. I think I can pretty much do it all for a team and I’m looking forward to whichever team I go to and making a huge impact.”

While Young is not expected to be picked in the top five, he should be picked between the six to ten range. Any player who is selected in that range has to work his absolute hardest to live up to the lengthy expectations that he will certainly face once he enters the NBA. Young luckily sounds like he is up to the task.

“I prepared extremely hard coming into the college season and making a huge impact right away, and I’m working two times as hard this summer preparing to get into the NBA level,” Young said. “I want to make a huge impact right away.”

Young is expected to be a high lottery pick, but he doesn’t care much for where he is selected as much as he cares about going to the team that suits him best.

“My main focus is going to the right team. It’s not about going one, two, three or 30. You see a lot of guys going in the second round in certain years that make big impacts for teams,” Young said. “It’s all about the fit for me. Whether that’s one or whether that’s whatever it is, I’m going to be happy and I’m going to be ready to make an impact.”

Young’s expected high draft position stems from his electrifying play as a scorer in college. Young’s performance for Oklahoma his freshman year was impressive enough to draw comparisons to NBA megastar Stephen Curry. While Young is flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as Curry, he takes pride in being his own player.

“He’s a two-time MVP and a champion. I mean, I love the comparison but I feel like I bring a lot of different things from different players’ games to the table,” Young said. “I’m just trying to be the best version of Trae Young. That’s all that matters to me. I’m just getting started in this thing so hopefully I can achieve some of those things.”

Young’s skillset may remind fans of Curry, but Young prides himself on modeling his game after his favorite player of all time: Steve Nash.

“With his size and my size, we’re pretty similar,” Young said. “He is very cerebral. He can score on all three levels and he knows how to get his teammates involved. He’s a winner so I feel like a lot of his characteristics match with mine.”

Those who have watched Young know of his offensive repertoire, but skeptics have pointed to his defensive shortcomings as a red flag. Young, however, believes his play at the combine will show that he can be a positive on the other side of the ball.

“I’m excited about having the opportunity to show people that I can play defense, and I’m excited to show that from day one,”

When all is said and done, Young may very well wind up being the most prolific scorer to come out of what many believe is a loaded draft, but Young has much bigger ambitions in mind for his career.

“I think I’m the best overall player in this draft, but my main focus isn’t necessarily to be the best player in this draft,” Young said. “My goal is to be the best player in the NBA. That’s what I’m focusing on each and every day.”

Continue Reading

NBA

NBA Daily: Jaylen Hands Makes Good Showing at the NBA Combine

Jaylen Hands made a good showing at the NBA Combine by displaying his offensive skills and defensive intensity.

Jesse Blancarte

Published

on

UCLA has produced a few of the NBA’s top point guards over the last decade or so, including Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday. Jrue’s younger brother, Aaron Holiday, has declared for this year’s draft and is projected by several NBA insiders to be selected with a first-round pick (likely in the 20-30 range). But Aaron Holiday isn’t the only UCLA point guard who may end up taking his talents to the NBA this offseason. Jaylen Hands, who is still just 19 years old and finished his freshman season, has also entered his name into this year’s draft.

While Hands has entered his name into the draft and participated in the NBA Combine, he has not hired an agent, which preserves his ability to return to college (Hands has until June 11 to make a final decision). Considering Hands’ young age and raw skill set, he isn’t projected by many insiders to hear his name called on draft night. But he certainly helped his cause in the Combine, showcasing his offensive talents, the muscle he has added to his slight frame since the end of his freshman season and aggressiveness on defense.

Basketball Insiders spoke with Hands at the Combine about his development, going through the pre-draft process, competing against familiar faces and more.

“It’s crazy, it’s crazy because when we were younger, they said the exact thing: ‘You guys are going to see each other forever.’” Hands said when asked about competing against many of the same players over the years and now at the Combine. “And you don’t really believe what they’re saying. But now you go through high school, you’re a senior, All-Star activities and you go to the Combine, you see the same people. It’s crazy.”

Hands has a notable skill set but is a raw prospect that many believe would be better served spending another year in college. While Hands needs to continue filling out his frame, he did register decent measurements at the Combine in relation to a top guard prospect – Trae Young of Oklahoma. Hands weighed in at 1.2 lbs heavier than Young, and outmatched Young in height (with and without shoes), standing reach and wingspan. Ironically, Hands has the smallest hands of all players that participated in the Combine. While these measurements don’t mean that he is currently a comparable prospect to Young, they could address some concerns about his current physical profile and how it may ultimately translate to the NBA.

Hands proved himself to be a confident and aggressive player in his freshman season at UCLA – something that he believes has led to misconceptions about his game.

“I’m not a point guard,” Hands said when asked about what misconceptions people have about his game.

I wouldn’t say it’s common, like it’s the main thing. But I’ve heard that I shoot first or something like that. I just feel like I attack a lot. I think I attack a lot and I’m of size to being a [two guard], so I think some people get it misconstrued. I just think I’m attack first, set my teammates up, get what I get.”

Hands is clearly aware of the common perceptions and current shortcomings in his game, which is why he is working hard to improve his overall skill set and is testing the NBA waters to get feedback from teams.

“Before I came here, just being more steady working on my shot, making good reads out of the pick and roll, finishing.” Hands said when asked about what parts of his game he was working on before coming to the Combine.

Hands was asked to clarify what he believes is his best strength at this point. Hands didn’t hesitate and pointed toward his ability to make plays off the dribble.

“My best strength is getting in the paint. So I get in the paint and make plays,” Hands said.

Hands is also clearly aware of UCLA’s history of producing quality point guards and has a chance to one day develop into a quality guard at the NBA level. However, with Holiday heading to the NBA and no major competition for the starting point guard position at UCLA next season, it may benefit Hands to hold off on turning pro for at least another year.

Whether he stays at UCLA or commits to this year’s draft, there’s no doubt that Hands is going to keep pushing to develop into a quality NBA player.

“I want to be the best player I can in the league,” Hands said. “That’s my goal.”

Continue Reading

Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 2018 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft – 5/22/18

The final 2018 NBA Draft order is set and Basketball Insiders’ publisher Steve Kyler offers up his latest 60-pick NBA Mock Draft.

Steve Kyler

Published

on

Lots of Draft Movement

With the draft order now set for the 2018 NBA Draft, there is some sense of how the draft might play out.

The buzz coming out of the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago is that a number of picks could be had in trade include all three of the top selections. Word is the initial asking price is very high and more of an indication to the San Antonio Spurs that if they do want to part with disgruntled star Kawhi Leonard, they are open for business.

It’s also worth noting that there is a growing sense that both the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawk may be far higher on some of the domestic bigs in the draft more so than euro sensation Luka Dončić. Both teams are expected to take a long look at Dončić, so their views on him could change as we get closer to the draft, but for now, Dončić may go lower.

Here is the latest 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft, reflecting the final draft order and the latest buzz, rumors, and intel from in and around the NBA:

Dates To Know:

The NCAA requires all players wishing to maintain their college eligibility, without penalty, to withdraw from the NBA Draft by 11:59 pm on May 30. That is an NCAA mandated date, not related to anything involving the NBA, and that notice must be delivered in writing.

The NBA’s draft withdrawal date is June 11 by 5:00 pm ET. The NBA’s date allows a prospect to remain NBA draft eligible for future NBA drafts and is not related to any NCAA rule or date. There are ways for college players that did not accept benefits to return to college. However, they may be subject to NCAA penalties.

The 2018 NBA Draft is June 21.

The Pick Swaps:

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections. This pick will convey.

The LA Clippers are owed the Detroit Pistons first-round pick in 2018 as a result of the Blake Griffin trade.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the final NBA standings.

The Phoenix Suns were owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick would only convey if the Bucks pick landed between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the final NBA standings did not convey. The Suns will now receive the Bucks 2019 first-round pick assuming it falls between the fourth and 16th pick.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick was lottery protected and would convey to Atlanta based on the final NBA standings.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick was lottery protected and would convey based on the final NBA standings.

The Chicago Bulls are owed the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick as a result of the Nikola Mirotic trade. The pick was top-five protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

The LA Lakers are owed the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick as a result of Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance Jr. trade. The pick was top-three protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick was lottery protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick was top-three protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects – http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, @mike_yaffe, @MattJohnNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau .

Continue Reading
Advertisement

NBA Team Salaries

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending Now