Mar 24, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague (0) attempts a layup while Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) defends during the second half at the Verizon Center. The Hawks defeated the Wizards 95 - 92. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

John Wall Returns; Hawks vs. Wizards Preview (1/12/13)

Five days have passed since the last time the Washington Wizards have played, and pulled off an extraordinary upset over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tonight, the Wizards have a chance to build on their recent momentum as they meet the Atlanta Hawks at the Verizon Center. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, John Wall is returning tonight!

Key Match Up

It has felt like an eternity, but today is the day John Wall finally returns to the Wizards lineup. With John Wall absent, the Wizards have struggled to defend quick guards such as Hawks guard, Jeff Teague. Although Wall isn’t particularly known for his defensive abilities, he’s the fastest player in the NBA, which certainly helps defend transition baskets from happening. Teague has had a good season thus far, and is averaging close to 13 points and 7 assists per game. His ability to get to the basket not only frees up his teammates, but forces the defense to not overplay on Teague himself. He’s not a great shooter, but his season averages have been good because of this.

Win-Lose-Draw, this game will undoubtedly be overshadowed by John Wall’s return. I, for one, cannot wait to see Wall get back on the court. I realize that his time out on the court will be limited, but the impact he’ll have on the team will be tremendous. Often times, the Wizards lack a sense of confidence, and John Wall will definitely help in that aspect. The team has been said to have been playing with more effort and commitment on defense in practice since John Wall has returned. Look for this to take place in tonight’s game. Wall’s affect on this team is immeasurable, and I could go on and on about how the team will change once he returns, but one thing that Wall will help with right away is their ability to perform in transition. The Wizards are the worst offensive team in the league, and need all the easy baskets they could possibly get. Wall, according to teammate A.J Price, still looks as quick as he did prior to injury. He’s basically a one man fast break.

Another thing people will look at is how quickly John Wall will adjust. He hasn’t played against NBA competition, other than in practice, in a very long time. How much has his jump shot improved? Is he as out of shape as various people have been reporting as of late? Those are just some of the things, as Wizards fans, we will be watching for.

Other Links/Notes

Prediction

I cannot remember the last time a Wizards game had as many story lines as tonight’s game against the Hawks. How much impact will Wall have in his much anticipated return? How many minutes will he play? Will Bradley Beal continue his legitimate fight for Rookie of the Year?

This is the second game in as many nights for Atlanta. They finally broke their four game losing skid, a season high, on Friday night against the Utah Jazz. One thing that separates the Hawks from the rest of the Eastern Conference is their big men. John Smith and Al Horford have been a great duo upfront, and both are having great season as of late. Washington aren’t slouches either, as Nene and Okafor have been very good for the Wizards this season. Okafor and Nene are polar opposites of each other, as Nene is a legitimate offensive threat, while Okafor makes a paycheck on the defensive end of the floor. The two have built good chemistry together, and will need to help neutralize Smith and  Horford if the Wizards want to get a second straight win tonight.

The Hawks are a good all around team, but their capability to hit the three pointer is one of their biggest threats. They hover around 38% from beyond the arc this season, but they force the defenses to collapse on their big men, which lead to open shots. Teague, Devin Harris, Kyle Korver, and even DeShawn Stevenson have done a good job shooting the ball this season. One player the Hawks don’t want to see settling for jump shots is Josh Smith. He’s without a doubt one of the leagues most athletic forwards, but often settles for deep jumpers which he cannot hit. Call me crazy, I’ve always compared him to a more athletic Andray Blatche.

So who wins tonight? As mentioned, this is a back to back game for the Hawks, and the Wizards have all the momentum in the world. Bradley Beal has been amazing as of late, and everyone’s contributing to the team’s effort. With John Wall returning to the lineup, the Wizards struggling offense and tenacity on both ends of the floor will improve.

We’ve waited for this day a long time, so how could I not choose the Wizards to win? It’s John Wall Day, so I think the Wizards will pick up their sixth victory.

Next Wizards Game Full schedule »
Wednesday, Oct 2222 Oct7:30at New York KnicksBuy Tickets

Tags: Atlanta Hawks Washington Wizards

comments powered by Disqus