#1 – Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks shook off a Game 1 loss to defeat a Washington Wizards team reeling without their best player in Game 2. The Hawks recorded 30 assists on 37 made field goals and turned the ball over just 10 times in the 16-point victory. Atlanta’s bench, outplayed in the series opener, found redemption with solid production from Kent Bazemore, Dennis Schroder and Pero Antic.
However, it was the play of high energy forward DeMarre Carroll spearheading the Hawks’ efforts. In Carroll’s last five playoff games, he’s averaging 22 points, six rebounds and 2.6 assists. The forward is also shooting 60 percent from the floor and 56 percent from three-point range, all the while continuing to be a force on the defensive side of the ball.
The Hawks managed to avoid heading to Washington down 0-2, but Atlanta should be concerned by the recent offensive struggles of All-Star guard Jeff Teagu, who’s averaging 6.6 points in his last three contests.
The early struggles of All-Stars Al Horford and Paul Millsap are fading deeper into the rearview as both guys have recorded at least 15 points in their last three contests.
#5 – Washington Wizards
All-Star guard John Wall missed the contest due to a wrist injury and the Wizards folded in the fourth quarter where his floor general skills could have been effective. Wall’s replacement, Ramon Sessions, scored 21 points in a solid offensive performance, but the Wizards managed to produce just 15 total fourth quarter points in Game 2.
Veteran forward Nene has been largely ineffective versus Atlanta, registering a total of two points in the series’ first two games. Shooting guard Bradley Beal became Washington’s go-to-guy without Wall in the lineup and while the emerging player recorded 20 points, he shot just 8-of-22 from the floor.
On a positive note for Washington fans, forward Otto Porter Jr. is averaging a strong 12.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in the series, which is huge considering Nene’s invisibility. Veteran forward Paul Pierce has also started the series versus Atlanta strong, averaging 17 points and connecting on eight three-pointers after two games.
But the Wizards’ long-term success in the playoffs is dependent on a healthy Wall in the lineup. According to reports, Wall is seeking a second opinion on his injured wrist and his status is unclear for Game 3.
Good news for the Wizards, the next game doesn’t tip-off until Saturday.
Who Wins Game 3?
The Wizards suffered their first loss of the postseason in Game 2. Dating back to the regular season, Atlanta has won four out of the past five matchups. If Wall doesn’t play in Game 3, expect the Hawks to steal home court advantage back from the Wizards.
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