Jan 12, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) defends Atlanta Hawks point guard Devin Harris (34) during the first half at the Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA Today Sports

Game Preview: Washington Wizards vs. Atlanta Hawks (Key Match Up, Notes, and Prediction)

The Indiana Pacers snapped Washington’s 3-game win streak last night, but the Wizards are back at it tonight against the Atlanta Hawks in the nation’s capital. The game will tip off at 7:00 PM from the Verizon Center.

Key Match Up:

With Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, and Rajon Rondo all sidelined, John Wall and Jeff Teague have arguably been the two best point guards in the Eastern Conference this season. Both Wall and Teague have taken advantage of their opportunity in the conference and have elevated their team’s play as a result. Averaging over 17 points and 8 assists per game, Teague could very well end up playing along side John Wall in the All-Star game in just a few months.

Both guards possess ridiculous speed, so the match up should bring some excitement in Washington. John Wall was on a tear before getting completely shut down against the Indiana Pacers, and I’d look for him to score the ball against the smaller Teague tonight. John Wall has had good games against the Atlanta Hawks in the past, and I think the Wizards need to capitalize at home especially since they’ll inevitably struggle to get some wins on the road. John Wall has to be more assertive and tonight is a good place to start another stretch of good games.

Notes:

  • Nene sat out of last night’s game due to a sore achilles. He’s questionable against the Atlanta Hawks.
  • Atlanta is currently third in the Eastern Conference, even though they’re just one game above .500.
  • The Hawks rank 28th in the league in rebounds per game, so if Nene plays tonight I think the Wizards will have an advantage on the boards.
  • Former Washington Wizard, Cartier Martin, has gotten some unexpected playing time with the Hawks this season. With Bradley Beal out, it would’ve been nice to have a shooter on the bench right now.

Prediction:

Washington has to find a way to win games despite being down two key players. Even though they’ll go up against a relatively healthy Atlanta Hawks team, I think they’ll have enough firepower to surprise the visiting team tonight. Jeff Teague has been playing at a very high level as of late, but he’s not big enough to contain John Wall. With that said, Wall has to become more aggressive against match ups like tonight. He’s been knocking down more mid range jump shots lately, but he’s still at his best when he’s attacking the basket.

Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza didn’t have particularly great nights yesterday, but they could potentially have bounce back games tonight against the Hawks don’t have very many good wing players on the roster. Al Horford and Paul Millsap are still one of the league’s best front court duos, so Marcin Gortat and whoever decides to suit up for the Wizards at the power forward spot have to be ready.

The Wizards will sneak by Atlanta with a very close victory.

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