The Atlanta Hawks dropped Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Washington Wizards 114-107 on Sunday afternoon. John Wall led the way for Washington with 32 points and 14 assists as the Wizards’ starters dominated the game to open the first and third quarters. The Hawks won the bench battle against their top-heavy opponents, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep them in the game.
All five Atlanta starters were minuses in the game as Washington blew the game open in the second half, creating havoc defensively and running the Hawks off the floor in transition. The Hawks struggled with Washington’s swarming defense, committing 19 turnovers that paved the way for 25 fastbreak points for the Wizards. Wall was on another level in the third quarter, racking up 15 points in the period as Atlanta’s defense struggled to keep up with his speed.
The Hawks lived at the free-throw line in the first half, which helped buoy them to a 48-45 halftime lead. The continuous march to the free-throw line masked what was a poor shooting performance from the Hawks, who had a sub-40-percent effective field goal percentage at halftime. While the performance in the box score doesn’t quite show it, Atlanta’s guards threw up some particularly questionable shots early in the shot clock. Dennis Schröder led the Hawks with 25 points on 16 shots and chipped in eight assists, but was ineffective overall at stopping Wall or Bradley Beal on the other end.
Thabo Sefolosha was active but did not see the floor for Atlanta as coach Mike Budenholzer went with Mike Dunleavy ahead of him in the rotation. Jose Calderon got the backup point guard minutes and was the only bench player for the Hawks to finish with a negative plus-minus. Mike Muscala paced the Hawks in that category, finishing with a +20 plus-minus in just 13 minutes.
Game 2 will tip on NBATV at 7 PM Eastern in Washington before the series shifts back to Atlanta for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday, April 24.