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Gameday: Wizards vs. Hawks – Wiz ain’t worried ’bout nothin?

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Wizards (25-28) at Hawks (25-27)

February 19, 2014 at 7:30 PM
Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 106.7FM The Fan

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Projected starting lineups:

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C- Marcin Gortat
PF- Nene
SF- Trevor Ariza
SG- Bradley Beal
PG- John Wall

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C- Gustavo Ayon
PF- Paul Milsap
SF- Cartier Martin
SG- Kyle Korver
PG- Jeff Teague

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Who’s hurt?

Wizards:
Al Harrington (knee)

Hawks:
Al Horford (pectoral)
John Jenkins (back)

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First meeting since…

THIS.


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John Wall v. Jeff Teague

These two surely know a thing or two about each other thanks to a showdown a few years back when Teague’s Knox Indy Pro Am summer league team faced Wall and DC’s own Goodman League squad. Wall’s 41 point outing is showcased in the video below.

Jeff Teague is one of those players with a lot of potential who just hasn’t figured out how to get it right. He’s had his highs and lows, and this season is probably the lowest he’s ever been. His name is popping up left and right in trade rumors because he’s been playing some uninspired basketball lately. For the season he was averaging 15 ppg along with 7 rebounds and 2 assists. Teague shoots 41% from the field and 25% from behind the arc. Given the recent trade rumors, if he want’s his way out of Atlanta he might show out tonight to show other teams flashes of the potential he’s shown his whole career.

John Wall is growing larger in the hearts of Wizards fans as the days go by. Not only is he becoming an every game threat for either a 20+ point performance or a dishing of 10+ assists, but he is improving in nearly every facet of his game. His defensive intensity has picked up late in games (reference his forcing of overtime in the Spurs game) but he is also playing well when you least expect it. After having his coming out party during All-Star Weekend, you’d figure he’d come out flat in the matchup against the Raptors. Instead, he came out hitting eight of his first nine shots. Wall also ended up missing eight of his last nine shots, but I’ll chalk that up to Kyle Lowry’s stingy defense.

Atlanta is one of only three cities of Eastern Conference teams in which John Wall hasn’t won a game in. Those two other teams are Indiana and Orlando. He was abysmal in the last game back in December, as he only made 6 of his 22 attempts. I’m fairly confident that Wall has been and been made aware of these facts and stats. I’m fairly confident that John Wall will play well tonight.

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The X-Factors

Bench.

With Al Horford out for this matchup, Gustavo Ayon usually suits up for the Hawks at center. However, he left early in the Pacers game with an injury so he could be playing less minutes. Their other center? Pero Antic. Who? Exactly. Wait. He’s out too. How is Atlanta still in the playoff picture again? You’d likely have seen the “career high for Pero Antic tonight” stat come up around the 3rd quarter so let’s be thankful. Elton Brand did end up picking up second half duties after Ayon’s injury in the Pacers game so it’s likely they shore up the position with forwards like Brand and Mike Scott if Ayon can’t go. I can imagine the halftime speech after Elton Brand and Mike Scott give up 45 points in the paint.

“GUSTAVO AYON ISN’T WALKING THROUGH THAT DOOR!”

Then again, the Wizards are usually the ones getting torched by no-name players.

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The Hawks strength is their assembly of point guards. We all know about Jeff Teague’s potential that hasn’t fully been met. Shelvin Mack and Lou Williams are solid backups at the position. We all know about the Wizards inability to spell John Wall appropriately this season. A big priority for the Wiz kids will be obtaining a quality backup point guard that can facilitate the offense while Wall gets his rest. Tonight they will have to figure out a way to offset Atlanta’s depth at point with some bench scoring of their own from guys like Martell Webster and Kevin Seraphin.

Rebounding.

Atlanta is 26th in the league in rebounding. They also will be lining up power forwards at the center position tonight.

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Outlook

If the Wizards want to win tonight, they have to find a way to limit Paul Millsap. He’s put up nearly 20 points and 11 rebounds in his first two meetings against the Wizards. Washington struggles with guys like Millsap, as he can knock down perimeter shots and post up on the block.

The Hawks don’t have a lot of name brands in their lineup, but they have managed to become first in the NBA in assists per game. They don’t have a lot of individual stars but it’s clear that they play well together. Constant ball pressure and limiting second chance opportunities for a team like Atlanta could ensure a victory. Beal and Ariza also can’t afford to have another bad shooting night as its quite evident that the Wizards need at least one of them to shoot the lights out to have a commanding lead in games.

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