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Wizards at Hawks Pregame: Time to “get dirty”


Washington (31-18) at Atlanta (40-9)

February 4, 2015 at 7:30 PM
Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA
TV: CSNWashington
Radio: 99.1FM

Tale of the Tape

[ezcol_1third]WIZARDS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third][/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]HAWKS[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]31-18[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]TEAM RECORD[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]40-9[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]99.9[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PPG (own)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]103.3[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]98.0[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PPG (opp)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]96.5[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Lost 3[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]W/L STREAK[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Lost 1[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Lost to Hornets 92-88[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PREVIOUS GAME[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Lost at Pelicans 115-100[/ezcol_1third_end]

Last time they met was..

January 11, 2015 @ Philips Arena, Atlanta – Hawks 120, Wizards 89

or, here’s a quicker, 6 second version of the highlights:

The Wizards faced their worst loss of the season on this one crisp Sunday afternoon in the South. A 2nd quarter surge by the Wiz had them within 5 at halftime but that was quickly forgotten after the Hawks went bananas from downtown in the second half, knocking down 9 of 11 three-point shots (they shot 16-31 for the game). Washington was outscored 65-39 after halftime.

The ugliness of this game really offered no bounds. John Wall totaled 8 turnovers while the Hawks totaled 8 as a team and converted 20 Wizards turnovers into 31 points. They spread their guys on the floor and moved the ball around the perimeter with extravagance, tallying 34 assists on 42 buckets. They outscored Washington 42-34 in the paint and had eight different players in double figures and I’m pretty much talking about this shit.

Bottom line is, if the Hawks even play a fraction as well tonight as they did in this January game, they’ll still destroy. Let’s just hope the “dirtiness” from practice Randy Wittman was talking about transposes onto the floor tonight in Atlanta.

Speaking of which..

Randy Wittman channels his inner Danny Tanner

From Jorge Castillo’s report, Randy Wittman had a heart-to-heart with his players before that “dirty” practice. Witt has been the victim of fan (and some media) scrutiny amid the enduring slump the Wizards are struggling to move past from and it’s really great to see him step in to a role of leadership and guidance when his guys most need it. I’m sure..well, hope..the players will reflect and respond accordingly. Here are the quotes.

“We had a heart to heart. We needed a heart to heart last night,” an expressive Wittman said after practice. “We needed to get in the gym and get dirty a little bit, get back to understanding what the basics of our principles are and who we are. That was the most beneficial thing I think of today. We got to fight through it. Sometimes it doesn’t turn overnight. And that’s what I told the guys. Sometimes you get in a lull, you got to fight your way out of it. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to fight out of it right away. You got to keep fighting to get it turned around.

“I’ve been there. I’ve been banged up. I’ve been sick. As I always tell guys, sick, I had some of my best career games when I was sick. I don’t know if I can go, you go, and all of a sudden you’re looking up and say, ‘shit, that’s a hell of a game.’”

“There’s highs and lows … Everybody knows how you’re going to deal with highs. Everybody can deal with success to a certain extent. You got to learn how to deal with success but it’s easy when you’re winning. It’s how you react to tough times. Everybody goes through them. It doesn’t matter who is is. You’re going to go through a rough patch. How are you going to get out of it? Do you feel sorry for yourself and wallow in the mud a little bit, longer than you should be in the mud? Or get yourself out of there? That’s what we got to do.”

From the Crystal Ball

— by Irfan K

What to Watch:

Facts about the Hawks as of the time I’m writing this:
· Before losing the Pelicans, the Hawks were on a 19 game winning streak.

· Since starting 7-5, the Hawks are 33-4. That’s a win percentage of .892.

· The Hawks have the best record in the Eastern Conference

· The Hawks have the 2nd best record in the NBA.

· The Hawks have the most All-Stars of any team in the NBA.

Remember everything I said about the Hornets? The Hawks are the opposite. Ball movement. Player movement. The extra pass. Unselfish stars. Shooters to space the floor. Everyone doing exactly what they are good at, and nothing they’re not. Beautiful basketball to watch. Basically everything you say about the Spurs. Hence the nickname, “Spurs East.” So yea, the Hawks are REALLY good.

Here’s one more fact. The last time the Wizards played the Hawks (a 31 point loss) the following players scored in double digits:

· Kyle Korver (19)

· DeMarre Carroll (16)

· Al Horford (15)

· Pero Antic (12)

· Jeff Teague (11

· Paul Millsap (11)

· Mike Scott (11)

· Dennis Schroder (10)

That’s EIGHT total. Oh, and Teague added 10 assists.

Simply put, the Wizards have to take SOMETHING away from the Hawks. They certainly can’t play like they did against Charlotte. Defensively, they’ve got to lock-in for 48 minutes, for all 24 seconds of every possession. The Hawks are good enough, and patient enough, to take advantage of any let-down the moment it occurs. Listen: The Hawks are legit. They are not the Hornets. Charlotte struggled to score even against a horrendous defensive effort. The Hawks can score even against a tremendous defensive effort.

Offensively, the Wizards have to take care of the basketball, and make the most of their advantages: Size inside, and John Wall in transition. Turnovers, offensive boards and fast break points will be huge in this game. The Wizards need to win in all these categories to have a chance to beat this Hawks team.

Key matchup:

Nene and Marcin Gortat vs. Paul Millsap and Al Horford. I know John Wall and Jeff Teague are going head-to-head, and that’s going to be great. But at the level they are both playing right now, these two will balance each other out.

The factor to swing the game is going to be the guys inside, though not necessarily playing inside. Nene and Gortat have the size advantage, and they must take advantage of their size advantage to get easy baskets, second chance points, and get Millsap and Horford in foul trouble. Defensively, they will have their hands full. Millsap has easy 3-point range. Horford is a deadly shooter out to 20 feet (and he’ll shoot and make the corner 3). Nene and Gortat are going to have to meet the challenge of guarding these guys far from the basket, a place outside of their comfort zone, while still rotating to help inside when needed. It won’t be easy, but it will be critical.


Kyle Korver. When the Wizards last faced the Hawks, Korver was 5/7 from 3, and had 19 points. The Wizards’ problem is that that is fairly standard for Korver these days. The man is shooting 53% from 3-point range. More bad news: Korver is shooting 60% on corner 3s. 60 percent!! In other words, you can NOT leave Kyle Korver. Not even a little.

OK, so just don’t leave Kyle Korver. Simple enough. Well, not exactly. The Hawks will repeatedly run sets with Korver in the corner, while Teague runs pick-and-roll at the top of the key with either Horford or Millsap. This puts the Wizards in a precarious position. The bigs will have to try to contain Teague’s penetration, and then recover to either a rolling or popping-out Hawk big. Because of Korver, there will be NO help off of Korver’s man. None. The spacing he creates is unlike almost any other player in the NBA. He’s a serious problem.

A Korver corner 3 to the buoyancy of his benchmates

Fun factor(s):

1. Wall vs. Teague. You should know I couldn’t just ignore this All-Star matchup! These guys are fast, these guys are quick, these guys are unselfish, these guys are good. Watching them going Mano-a-mano all night is going to be fun.

2. Kyle Korver without the ball. If you love the game of basketball, trust me on this: For at least a few Atlanta possessions, watch only Kyle Korver. Watch him stay in constant motion, running off screen after screen. Then, watch how the Hawks use him as a screener. Korver will often sprint towards a potential screener, then suddenly flip the script, and instead, set the screen, catching the defense completely off guard. Additionally, watch his defender. See how close he stays, or how far he drops off of Korver. This defenders position can often determine the course of an entire Hawks possession. And finally (this is the fun part), pretend he’s Bradley Beal.


Wizards play with much more energy and passion after their Monday loss. The Hawks play with a ton of energy and passion, back in front of their home crowd after a streak-ending Monday loss. The better team wins, and right now, the Hawks are the better team. But they win by less than 31.

we are Hoop District

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