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Preview and Game Thread #3: Washington Wizards vs Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta Hawks 10-11 Season Game #3



0-1 2-0
Phillips Arena
October 30th, 2010, 7:00 PM
Sports South, 99X FM, Pre and Post Game Show 680 The Fan, NBA Audio League Pass
Probable starters:
John Wall PG Mike Bibby
Kirk Hinrich SG Joe Johnson
Al Thornton SF Marvin Williams
Andre Blatche PF Josh Smith
JaVale McGee C Al Horford

Hawks Injuries: Mo Evans (knee) Pape Sy (back) are both out

Wizards Injuries: Gilbert Arenas (ankle) is out

SB Nation Wizards Blog: Bullets Forever

Game Preview:

The Hawks are looking to finish off the first week of the season with a perfect 3-0 mark. Standing in their way is the Washington Wizards who come into the game with an 0-1 mark and are without their leader in Gilbert Arenas. The game is also the first back to back setting for the Hawks this regular season after having two in the preseason. No Hawks starter played more than 34 minutes last night so hopefully the back to back won't have any major effect. Tonight is the home opener where the Hawks were one of the league's best last season.

The Wizards come into the game having been blown out by the Orlando Magic in their season opener. The John Wall era got off to a rocky start as he had a tough night shooting against the Magic.

Keys to the Game:

The Hawks need to limit the impact of JaVale McGee on the inside. It seems that he has been a factor the last few times these two teams have met either defensively or finishing at the rim. That goes right along with the second key which is playing better transition defense. It wasn't a factor against the Grizzlies because for the most part the Hawks controlled the boards and didn't turn the ball over. However, against the Sixers, the Hawks turned the ball over frequently late and then compounded the mistake by not getting back on defense. That will be a big key against John Wall and company.

The final thing I want to touch on is trusting the offense down the stretch. Many commented that the Hawks broke down into Iso play down the stretch last night. MC's recap states that coach Drew called a few pick and roll set plays coming down the stretch for Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson.

Instead of going with motion sets late, L.D. kept calling for Bibby to set a pick so J.J. could end up with a mismatch on Lou Williams. That led to a lot of standing around for J.J.’s teammates and a critical turnover when Williams poked away the ball and Nocioni scored on a fastbreak.

Johnson admits in the article that he has to take better care of the ball and make better decisions.

"We just kind of made some boneheaded plays down the stretch, with me leading the pack definitely,"J.J. said. "We’ve got to know the time and the score. In the fourth quarter, under five minutes [to play], we’ve really got to take care of the ball. That’s on me."