Tonight, the Hawks will play game two of their series against the Washington Wizards. After a disappointing game one loss, tonight is Atlanta’s second chance to steal one of the first two games. Starting a series with two consecutive road games is always difficult, and the road for Atlanta will get much easier if the team can pull off a win this evening.
In game one, John Wall played just as well as many expected him to. Wall is a difficult matchup for Atlanta, and the versatile point guard carved up the Hawks’ defense on possession after possession. Mike Budenholzer plans to stick with the same starting lineup for game two, and it will be interesting to see if the team tries any new tactics or rotations to shore up the defensive play.
While Wall and Bradley Beal will be just as difficult to contain throughout the entire series, Atlanta can at least take solace in how close the first game was. The Hawks weren’t at their best in the first contest, and still managed to keep the score close. If the team can put together a stronger performance (especially on the defensive end), game two may end with a different result.
In terms of rotations, the most pressing issue at the moment is how much time (if any), Thabo Sefolosha will play. Sefolosha is Atlanta’s best defensive counter to Wall and Beal on the perimeter, and his absence during game one is odd to say the least. Sefolosha is healthy, by all indications, making his absence in a playoff game an interesting strategic decision. There is no word on whether or not he will play in game two, but he his presence will be something to watch for.
Perhaps most importantly tonight, Atlanta will need better contributions from the starting five. The starters from game one didn’t play well at all, and the closeness of the final score came almost entirely from bench contributions. As great as it is to get good production off the bench, the Hawks will have little chance in this series if they can’t get consistent scoring and defense from the starting unit.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, April 19, 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Verizon Center, Washington D.C.
TV: NBA TV, Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 92.9 “The Game”