NBA

Game 6 Preview: Hawks vs Wizards

Basketball Insiders previews Game 6 between the Hawks and Wizards.

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Updated 12 months ago on
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# 1 – Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks are one win away from their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance in team history. Atlanta finds themselves in this position courtesy of a gutsy Game 5 home victory over the Washington Wizards in which All-Star center Al Horford hit a game winning layup with under two seconds remaining.  The Hawks now own a 3-2 series lead and will look to close out the Wizards on the road in Game 6.

But in many ways the Hawks were lucky to escape with a victory in Game 5. The team committed 23 turnovers while only dishing out 21 assists. All-Star point guard Jeff Teague committed seven of these turnovers in 31 minutes of action, while fellow All-Star Paul Millsap contributed six of his own. Atlanta was also abysmal from three-point range, typically a strength, shooting 5-of-22 (23 percent) from deep in the victory.

What got the Hawks through the rough stretches was the inspired play, on both sides of the ball, by Horford who contributed 23 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. Horford’s play in the second half was instrumental in Atlanta’s comeback from a double-digit deficit as the big man, on numerous occasions, just wouldn’t be denied.

#5 – Washington Wizards

It was another valiant effort from the Washington Wizards in Game 5. But the result was another loss suffered by the team down the stretch in a contest that could have gone either way. On a positive note, the team welcomed the return of All-Star guard John Wall into the starting lineup. Wall, who has multiple fractures in his left wrist, suited up after missing the last three games of the series and poured in 15 points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals in 37 minutes.

While the team heads home for Game 6 looking to stave off elimination, shooting guard Bradley Beal has quietly put together an impressive Eastern Conference Semifinals campaign, averaging 24.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists on 41 percent shooting from the field (39 percent three-point range).

The Wizards’ starting lineup wasn’t the issue in Game 5. Beal, Marcin Gortat, Nene, Paul Pierce and Wall kept Washington in the game all night. However the Wizards bench trio of Drew Gooden, Otto Porter, Jr. and Ramon Sessions was virtually non-existent, combining to shoot a woeful 3-of-22 from the field for a grand total of nine points on the night.

Who will win Game 6?

The Wizards have proven they’re not going to fold like a tent versus the Hawks, while Atlanta continues to be unable to generate much separation from the pesky five seed. Teague will be the key for the Hawks in Game 6. The dynamic guard was a huge factor in Game 4’s win, but rode the pine down the stretch in Game 5 as head coach Mike Budenholzer opted to roll with Dennis Schroder in the lineup.

Look for the Hawks to weather the Wizards’ opening barrage in Game 6 and slowly wear down Washington to pull out a very close victory and march to their first ever Conference Finals appearance.

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Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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