Washington Wizards dropped two straight games against the Atlanta Hawks, but showed life in their most recent win at home.
Seeing the same opponent over and over is going to create some frustration.
After beating the Atlanta Hawks twice and gaining a 2-0 series lead, the Washington Wizards looked like they would coast to the semifinals. But struggling to carry over the momentum away from home, the Wizards found themselves tied, 2-2, heading back to the nation’s capital on Wednesday night.
Game-5 wasn’t the series-deciding game, but it might as well have been.
Washington couldn’t afford to lose at home after dropping two straight games and realistically have a shot at eliminating Atlanta. Coming into D.C., the Hawks had gained real confidence. Everyone on the team operated at a different level.
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The Hawks looked like a team on the cusp of putting it together at the perfect time – on the biggest stage the NBA has to offer.
Washington failed to build on their success and had to start from scratch with the series tied.
Instead of rolling over and allowing the Hawks to continue their streak, Washington’s core stepped up and showed their worth, especially in the second half.
Bradley Beal, in particular, fueled the Wizards, not only on the offensive side of the ball, but also defensively.
Beal scored 27 points, knocking down several clutch shots to put the Hawks away and added 3 blocks to his totals. On one play, Beal recovered from a botched offensive possession, raced up the court and blocked Millsap’s shot. He was playing with a sort of energy that showed how badly he wanted to win.
His backcourt mate, Wall, did much of the same, but was able to rack up assists because his teammates actually contributed. He scored 20 points and dished out 14 assists. Wall made a dagger mid-range jump shot to end the Hawks’ hopes of a comeback late in the game.
Otto Porter also showed signs of life with extreme efficiency, scoring 17 points on 3 of 4 shooting. Porter didn’t settle for outside looks and attacked the basket, earning 10 free throws on the night. That, really, has been the difference maker. He found himself contributing in ways that go beyond the stat sheet, which will always be his bread and butter.
Washington also got a lift from Bojan Bogdanovic, who scored 14 points off the bench on 4 of 7 shooting. When the Wizards needed a scoring spark, he shot the ball confidently and drilled his open looks.
The Wizards held the Hawks to under 41 percent shooting from the field and showed the fire they missed in Games 3 and 4. Marcin Gortat, even, was able to shake some of his rust off and help the team in the fourth quarter.
For the Wizards to close out the series, they’ll have to find a way to play with this same amount of energy in Atlanta. The crowd won’t be on their side, but that shouldn’t be the difference maker, especially in terms of effort level. Washington will have an opportunity to close out the series on Friday night.