NBA Wizards 

Wizards protect their house, go up 3-2 over Hawks

Washington’s 33 point third quarter helped them secure a 103-99 win to take a 3-2 lead in the series with Atlanta.

The recurring theme to this series is Washington’s back court has been nothing short of excellent, that narrative did not change on this night. John Wall got off to a slow start, missing his first five shots before finally seeing one fall. While he only finished the game shooting 9 for 20 from the field and 1 for 3 from beyond the arc, Wall did end the game with an efficient 20 points and a game high 14 assists.

“Brad is – I say this often and I don’t know how much traction it gets – he is one of the best two-way players in the league. He’s not going to tell anybody that he’s a great defender, but his coaching staff [and] his teammates know that he locks up defensively, gives you great effort, and gives you an honest day’s work. He has such a great, smooth game offensively and you’re kind of mesmerized by that, but he’s a two-way player and he’s one of the best at his position.” – Wizards Head Coach Scott Brooks

Bradley Beal was very aggressive all game long. It was clear from opening tip that he was going to go at Atlanta. From hitting his iconic off-screen three to attacking the mismatches, getting to the rim, Beal looked to put his imprint on the game. He was even a force on the defensive end of the ball, getting three blocks on the night and three key steals late in the game. He finished with 27 points, a team high and five rebounds.

PHOTO CREDIT: Rob Carr/Getty Images North America

While Atlanta played a solid game offensively, it was costly turnovers and defensive breakdowns that did them in. As a whole, the team shot 40.9 percent from the field but they shot only 66 percent from the free throw line. Dennis Schroder continued his hot shooting from Game 4, hitting 5 of the 6 threes he threw up. Schroder (like last game) used Washington’s pick-n-roll defensive problems to get downhill to the basket the whole game. He finished with a game high 29 points and 11 assist. Kent Bazemore struggled with his shot from the field, only hitting 3 of 12 shots, most of which were wide open.

Because Markieff Morris struggled on the night with foul trouble, Atlanta capitalized on the mismatches due to him being on the bench. The Hawks played Paul Millsap at the five(center) majority of the game, which was effective against Marcin Gortat  and  the other Washington’s bigs. His quickness and ability to get to the charity strip was on display all night with Morris on the bench. Millsap finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

Washington’s bench has been their achilles heel the whole season, while Atlanta’s bench has been one of their strengths. On this night however, the roles were reversed. Washington got solid performances from Bojan Bogdanovic and Brandon Jennings to keep them a float while Beal and Wall got a breather. Kelly Obure Jr. was a problem for Atlanta on the defensive side of the ball, being active on switches and hounding the ball handler every chance he got.

Plays like this energized the team all night:

Each team as handled their business at home. If Washington wishes to avoid a Game 7, they will need to bring the same intensity that helped them secure wins in games 1,2 and 5. Their defense will need to fuel their offense and capitalize on Atlanta’s mistakes.

Game 6 will be in Atlanta on April 28 at 7:30 pm EST.

PHOTO CREDIT: Rob Carr/Getty Images North America

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