The Wizards couldn’t overcome the loss of John Wall tonight. Atlanta played its best game of the series in a 106-101 win. A few takeaways.
1. Atlanta’s offensive execution was excellent. The Hawks got what they wanted offensively all-night long. Whether it was hammering the Wizards with dribble-penetration by Teague and Schroder or either guy playing very effective pick-roll/pick-pop offense with Millsap and Horford, they got where and what they wanted. Their court-spacing was the best it’s been in this series which made it harder to help on Teague/Schroder dribble-penetration. The Hawks had 30 assists on 41 made shots. That’s great offense by any standard.
2. Wall missed most on defense. The Hawks found something that worked late in Game 3 that they went to the well on tonight. Without Wall, there is nobody on the roster that can stay in front of Teague and/or Schroder. Sessions, Bynum…didn’t matter who it was; it was too easy for Atlanta’s point guards to drive the ball into the paint and either score or create an easy opportunity for teammates. They played together a bunch tonight and combined for 40 points and 16 assists. That made it really hard for the Wizards to match-up.
3. Beal was really good. He went for 34 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and a key block that gave them a chance to tie the game late. He was their best defensive player most of the night too. He had the late block of a Schroder shot down 104-101 but also had a steal down 89-84 that the Wizards couldn’t convert on the other end. He’ll need two more games like this one with more help if the Wizards are going to move on without Wall.
4. Porter/Gortat struggled. This was the worst night of the playoffs for both Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat. Beal got a ton of help from Pierce and a little more from Nene but the Wizards needed more production from Porter and Pierce and just didn’t get it. They combined for 7 points on 2-11from the floor. Gortat never seemed in rhythm. Most of his misses were good shot attempts for him but he was just off. Porter just didn’t see the floor well tonight. He had an opportunity in the 4th quarter to kick a pass to a wide-open Beal standing behind him but instead missed a contested shot. And then down 95-88, he rebounded a miss and immediately threw it away to Teague.
5. Wittman’s out-of-bounds plays/scores at the end. The Wizards ran three perfect plays after timeouts on their final three possessions of the game. Down 104-97 following a timeout, Wittman dialed up a play that got Beal open off a screen for a quick layup. Next possession down 104-99, they ran perfect play for Pierce off a screen then a pass to Nene for a quick dunk. Then down 104-101, they got Paul Pierce open for a 3-point look to tie the game on a great play with multiple screens and misdirection freeing Pierce for a wide-open look. Wittman has been very good in these situations all postseason long.
6. Pierce’s open 3 to tie. Off a bone-crunching and barely legal screen by Nene on Carroll, Pierce got a wide-open 3 to tie the game and missed. Carroll fell onto Pierce’s feet which was definitely a distraction to Pierce but probably not a foul.
7. Korver traveled. Up 3 with 3.8 left, Korver slipped/stumbled/traveled after catching the inbounds pass. It should’ve been Wizards’ ball with 2.8 left with a chance to get off another game-tying 3-point attempt.
8. Bynum will get more minutes in Game 5. Will Bynum is a liability on defense but his ability to score means he’ll get more than 14 minutes in Game 5 assuming Wall can’t go again. He was 5-7 from the floor for 10 points. He was credited with 4 turnovers but 2 of them should have been assists instead including what should’ve been a catch/layup for Porter to cut the lead to 89-86.