The Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards will finally rekindle their second-round series on Saturday afternoon.
After three full days of waiting, the two teams will shift their series to the nation's capital, and there is a great deal of uncertainty to the festivities. Of course, the biggest question centers around Wizards point guard John Wall and his availability for Game 3 and the remainder of the series.
Washington announced earlier in the week that their All-Star point guard had suffered five non-displaced fractures in his hand and wrist. That led to some jumping to the conclusion that Wall would be gone for the remainder of the playoff run, but the team has been careful not to rule anything out, and head coach Randy Wittman stopped short of saying that Wall wouldn't be available for Game 3.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am not expecting Wall to play, but I'm certainly not ruling it out. In the event that he can't go, the Wizards would turn to a steady diet of Ramon Sessions with a sprinkling of Garrett Temple or even Will Bynum, and it would be foolish to suggest that Washington is a similar team without Wall. Still, the Wizards put up quite a fight without him in Game 2, and Sessions is an NBA player capable of scoring in bunches if everything goes to plan.
Beyond the Wall question, the Hawks must continue to improve on their side of the floor. Atlanta shot only 43.5% from the floor and 34.5% from three-point range in Game 2, and that included a combined 7-for-23 output from the backcourt duo of Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver. Korver bounced back strongly in the second half, making three of his four three-point tries, but the Hawks need more from Teague moving forward.
Admittedly, Washington's offensive game had an element of fluky behavior in Game 2, but the Wizards still made 55% of their threes, and they are a capable offense. Bradley Beal continues to be a problem for Atlanta, almost regardless of who guards him, and it will be interesting to see if Mike Budenholzer stays with Kyle Korver as his primary defender, especially if Wall is unable to go.
The Atlanta Hawks are the "favorite" in this series, and that is the case regardless of Wall's availability. However, there is nothing easy about winning on the road in the NBA Playoffs, and with a team led by Paul Pierce on the other side of the floor, Budenholzer's team is likely in for a 48-minute battle in Game 3. The challenge awaits.
Game Date/Time: Saturday, May 9, 5:00 p.m. ET
Location: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Radio: 92.9 "The Game" FM