The Atlanta Hawks will look to continue their momentum and take an upper hand in their best of seven series with the Washington Wizards when the two teams meet again for Game 5 at the Verizon Center.
The home team has won each of the four games in the series thus far. Washington took Games 1 & 2 but Atlanta held serve at home with a pair of dominant wins. The Wizards still have homecourt advantage in the series but the Hawks seem to have the momentum.
Atlanta struggled with turnovers in each of the first two games. The Hawks turned it over 19 times in Game 1 and 18 times in Game 2. Those miscues helped short circuit Atlanta’s offense and fueled Washington’s transition offense.
The Hawks were able to get a handle on the turnovers at Philips Arena and turned the ball over just 23 times in Games 3 & 4 combined. Despite some slippage this season, Atlanta’s halfcourt defense is their greatest strength as a team. Taking the Wizards out of transition and being able to set their halfcourt defense is a key for the Hawks in this series.
John Wall has been a monster in this series averaging 28.8 points per game while shooting over 50 percent from the field. Save for an off night in Game 3, Bradley Beal hasn’t been far behind averaging 22.8 points on 42 percent shooting. However, Washington has struggled to find offense behind that talented duo.
Markieff Morris is the only other Washington player averaging in double figures and he is shooting just 35 percent from the field. Since a solid Game 1, he has battled foul trouble and thoroughly been outplayed by Atlanta’s Paul Millsap. It isn’t a situation where the Hawks are ignoring Wall and Beal but they have done a solid job defensively limiting the supporting cast. That needs to continue in Game 5 if Atlanta hopes to steal a victory.
Even with his struggles, Morris has continued to take shots at Millsap through the media and most recently following Game 3. Millsap is averaging 23.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 51 percent in the series. By the time this thing is over, the Wizards may very well wish that Morris had kept his mouth shut.
Another area to keep an eye on in Game 5 will be at the three-point line. Washington was the eighth best three-point shooting team in the league during the regular season in terms of percentage but 29.7 percent over the first four games of this series. Atlanta struggled at times to defend the three-point shot and was 16th in the league this season with opponents shooting 36 percent from long range.
The Hawks have been an up and down team all season long so this series hasn’t been terribly surprising. They have struggled to sustain success but have a golden opportunity in front of them on Wednesday.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, April 26, 6 p.m. ET
Location: Verizon Center, Washington D.C.
TV: TNT, Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 92.9 “The Game”