Without John Wall, the Wizards were competitive and had chances but lost 106-90. A few thoughts.
1. No Wall meant a different pace. After pushing tempo for the majority of their first five playoff games , they just couldn’t do it enough without Wall tonight. Most of their fast break opportunities came after steals/Atl. turnovers….they rarely pushed tempo after defensive rebounds. The lack of consistent up-tempo didn’t totally render them impotent but they did have their lowest scoring game of the postseason.
2. 3-point shooting kept them close most of the night. The 3-point shot kept the Wizards in the game until late in the 4th quarter. They went 12 for 22 from behind the arc. Pierce went 5-8, Sessions 3-5, Porter and Beal each 2-3. Several of their made 3’s (see Porter/Sessions/Beal) bounced around and on the rim multiple times before falling. Despite scoring just 90 points, the rim was kind to the Wizards all night.
3. Pick & roll defense hurt them. They consistently hedged too hard on ball screens leaving Milsap in particular wide open to either score or collapse the defense which led to excellent ball movement and wide open looks. Nene was a major defensive liability tonight in their pick and roll defense. He just doesn’t move well enough these days. The Hawks had 30 assists on 37 made shots. A lot of those assists came as a result of bad pick & roll/pick & pop defense. Atlanta missed many open shots which kept the Wizards in it for most of the night.
4. Sessions played great. Ramon Sessions stepped in for Wall and was as good as you could’ve hoped for. He led the way with 21 points on 8-14 shooting. The shot of the night was his 3-point play early in the 4th where the ball hit off the top of the backboard and fell in.
5. Too many turnovers in the first half in particular. Nine turnovers in the first half and 16 total….many of them unforced.
6. Rough 4th quarter stretch snuffed out chance to win. Down 88-83, it went to 95-83 after a series of tough plays, most involving Gortat. He missed two easy shots during the stretch, allowed Milsap to get an offensive rebound that led to an Antic 3, and then fouled out down 93-83.
7. Nene. He just doesn’t look right and seems to be lost. His defense especially in pick & roll situations was god awful. He can’t score and rarely looks to score anymore. Additionally, he’s a turnover waiting to happen. Now, this series isn’t a good one for him because of the matchups. If the Wizards advance, he could potentially be a better fit for Chicago or Cleveland. With that said, he appears to have little confidence.
8. Bad officiating. It didn’t cost the Wizards the game but bad officiating fouled out Gortat. His 4th foul on his blocked shot on Schroder was bad but the offensive foul on a Beal drive in the 4th quarter was phantom.