Washington (25-11) at Atlanta (28-8)
January 11, 2015 at 3:00 PM
Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA
Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA
Despite the close proximity of points between the teams back in November, the game was a shit show on paper for the Wizards. A season-high 20 turnovers, zero fast break points, a 40-48 disadvantage on the boards, and the wrath of defensive switching by the Wizards enabling Jeff Teague to score too many easy buckets.
This was also one of those games where Bradley Beal puts on a stink, misses 10 of 14 shots and commits 5 turnovers then calls for “amnesia” in his post-game interview. He really means it when he says it too because the games are actually that bad. Wall had his customary double-double (21 and 13) but it didn’t come with ease as he tallied 7 turnovers and was just 6-15 from the field.
But the biggest mishap for the Wizards was the failure to contain Teague which brings us right back to the Wizards’ common mishap of failing to defend smaller point guards. We just saw Aaron Brooks a few nights ago creepingly penetrate through the defense like a mouse skidding beneath your feet in a back alley, much like Teague does. Teams with smaller point guards now have a knack for scheming the Wizards defense into a switch especially when it’s Gortat as the switcher. Gortat is unquestionably a premiere rim defender in this league but I don’t know if I can bear to watch him square up around the perimeter against a quicker, far lesser sized ball-handler in Jeff Teague like that again.
Here’s what I mean:
Teague finished the game with 28 points on 8-19 shooting, went to the line 14 times, had 3 steals, 3 assists and 3 rebounds. Oh, and just 2 turnovers.
Since that November meeting, the Hawks have gone ablaze, winning 21 of their last 24 games. Here’s what you really need to know about them:
-> They are incredibly coached. Another successful product of Gregg Popovich, Mike Budenholzer has led Atlanta to the best record in the East in just his first season on the job.
-> They play efficient offense where they share the ball and take good shots. The Hawks are 8th in the league in offensive efficiency (105.7), 3rd in assists per game (25.7), and have an overall true shooting percentage of 56.4%, good for 4th best.
-> The Hawks have three players who have PER’s of 19 or better. Jeff Teague- 22.7; Paul Millsap- 19.5; Al Horford 19.0.
-> The Hawks are a murderous 3-point shooting team. They average 24.7 attempts per game and make 38% of them. Kyle Korver is obviously the prime culprit of these numbers. He averages 5.7 attempts per game and shoots them at an insane .517 clip. But besides Korver, you’ve got the accomplices in Mike Scott (2.5 3PA/G – .388), DeMarr Carroll (4.1 3PA/G – .382), and Jeff Teague (2.9 3PA/G – .361).
Notable wins for the Hawks:
The Hawks have won 12 of their last 13 games, most of them quality wins. They’ve swept the Clippers; they’ve beaten the Cavs, Rockets, Mavs and Blazers all ON THE ROAD; they’ve also beaten the Bulls and shut up the streaking Pistons, handing them their first loss after 7 straight wins.