Atlanta’s series against the Washington Wizards has not started well, and the Hawks find themselves behind 2-0 in a very physical series. In Game 2, John Wall played at an All-Star level as he carried his team to a win with 32 points and 9 assists. Bradley Beal also had 31 points, including a late three-pointer that sealed the game. The Hawks need to find a way to slow down Washington’s duo and improve their own offense at home in Game 3.
This series has been very physical, and players have been very emotional through the first two games. For example, John Wall stared down Dennis Schroder after a fast-break dunk. Also, there were 55 personal fouls throughout Game 2, but no one fouled out. The most notable statistic in Game 2 was Atlanta’s 4-20 shooting performance from the three-point line, which cannot happen again if Atlanta is to come back from the 0-2 series deficit.
Taurean Prince has impressed coach Mike Budenholzer over the past few weeks, and he has started in both playoff games in the series. Thabo Sefolosha, despite being back to full health, only played four minutes in Game 2 and did not play in Game 1. Also, Kent Bazemore’s knee injury kept him from playing near the end of the season, and Budenholzer has decided to have him come off the bench the past few games. Tim Hardaway Jr. has started the past few games as well. Atlanta also plays well when he comes Hardaway Jr. comes off the bench and Bazemore starts in his place. Bazemore’s injury status will likely determine if he can play more minutes and start, but it should be interesting to see what Budenholzer decides to do with the lineup in Game 3.
Though hampered by injuries and struggling as a team, Atlanta needs to turn this series around. The first two games were close, but to avoid a 0-3 deficit and likely elimination, Atlanta needs to win Game 3 at home. If Atlanta can win Game 3 and tie the series 2-2 with a Game 4 win Monday night, they have a chance to come back and win this series. Otherwise, Atlanta will be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2014, when they lost 3-4 in a series against the Indiana Pacers. If Atlanta wants to avoid a roster teardown following this season, winning Game 3 may be their last chance to keep their core group of players together.
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