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Game 3 preview: Hawks return home in must-win spot against Wizards

A loss on Saturday wouldn’t end the series but... it would effectively end the series.

Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards - Game Two Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks are sitting in an 0-2 hole as they return home to Philips Arena on Saturday and, frankly, they deserve to be there. Atlanta was certainly competitive, especially in Game 2, during their stint in the nation’s capital, but the better team won both contests in the Washington Wizards and Mike Budenholzer’s team will be forced to flip the script in their third attempt.

At the outset, it will be very interesting to see if the Hawks stick with the same rotations in Game 3, especially amid the lackluster results (-35.3 net rating in 28 minutes) from the starting lineup to this point in the series. Will Mike Budenholzer deploy Thabo Sefolosha more extensively? Will we see Malcolm Delaney? How much will Dwight Howard play after a 20-minute stint in Game 2? There are many, many questions to answer.

On the Washington side, it remains to be seen if the Wizards can withstand a sub-par effort from their star backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal. In truth, it might not matter if the Hawks don’t solve their defensive issues (especially with regard to Tim Hardaway Jr.) in the series, but Washington’s role players outside of Marcin Gortat and a Game 1 explosion from Markieff Morris haven’t been explosive. How the Hawks elect to defend in pick-and-roll will also be quite intriguing, if only because the original deployment has not worked effectively.

The Atlanta Hawks are certainly capable of winning a game (or two) in this series, especially in front of their home crowd. However, winning this particular game is doubly important given the stakes and set up if Atlanta were to fall behind 0-3 in the match-up. The stage is set for an important, season-making game on Saturday evening and we’ll be here throughout the day.

Stay tuned.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Saturday, April 22, 5:30 p.m. ET

Location: Philips Arena

TV: TNT, Fox Sports Southeast

Radio: 92.9 “The Game” FM