The Wizards won another road game in the playoffs. A few thoughts from the Game 1 104-98 win in Atlanta.
1. 2nd half defense & cold Atl. shooting. After giving up 63 in the first half to the Hawks, the Wizards held Atlanta to 35 in the 2nd half on 13-52 shooting. The defense was really good but Atlanta missed some open shots including a couple of easy put-backs.
2. Final two offensive possessions. They weren’t great possessions but at the end of each one, Wall made a winning play. Up 98-96 Wall drove and fed Porter for an easy layup and then up 100-96 he did the same thing with Gortat. Close-out plays by Wall. The possessions before those last two weren’t great. They got lulled into clock-eating offense too early up 98-91and Wall had a bad turnover that led to a 3-point play on the other end. He was huge when it mattered though on those final two possessions.
3. Few turnovers. Amazing how much better the Wizards have been protecting the ball in the postseason compared to the regular season. Although Wall had a bad turnover up 98-91 on a bad possession, they committed just 6 for the game. Three of those were early when it seemed they were just trying to clear a week’s worth of rust off. They had averaged 17 per game in the regular season against the Hawks.
4. Key 3’s and Free Throws. They made 19 of 22 from the line and several key threes, especially in the first half. It really felt like Atlanta had a chance to open up some bigger leads in the first half but a pair of made free throws here and there and some huge 3-pointers by Gooden, Pierce, and others stemmed the tide. Atlanta was super sharp early shooting 63% with 11 assists in a 37-point first quarter. It was the Wizards’ three-pt shooting and their ability to get to the line that kept the game well within reach.
5. Overcame injuries/bad calls. Wall hurt his arm and Beal his ankle but both played. Wall’s was obviously not as serious. Hopefully Beal can play Tuesday night. Two charges were called blocks in the 4th. Seraphin and Pierce drew obvious charges that were called blocks. Both were awful calls.
6. Strange but true. It’s stange but for as great a shooter as Beal is, he’s had 1-2 bad air balls per game in the playoffs. I mean 3-foot short air balls….not even close. With that said, a spectacular game all around before he got hurt.
7. Road warriors. That’s 4 straight series winning the first game on the road. No team in NBA history has ever done it. Wittman is now 8-1 on the road in two years.
8. Nene. Worst game of the playoffs. He just doesn’t look right. He was a zero threat offensively today. The plantar fasciitis seems to be a problem.
9. Sessions with good minutes again. He played well in his normal spot in the rotation and then played well when Beal went out with the ankle.
10. Otto Porter….officially good. Wow is he a changed player. His defense, rebounding, and shooting have been impactful. His confidence is sky high.