Sunday’s game was a tale of two halves. In the first half, the Hawks looked like the best team in the East. The ball was moving fluidly, shots were falling, Horford was screaming, and the crowd continued to believe this could be the year. The Hawks led at the half, 63-53. However, in the second half, the Hawks seemed to be lost. The ball movement was there, but the Hawks just could not hit a shot. The Wizards took advantage of the Hawks’ lackluster shooting and took control of the game in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for Atlanta fans, the Wizards won the game 104-98. Let’s take a look at three takeaways from Game 1.
The Washington Wizards Are Road Warriors
The Wizards moved to 3-0 on the road this postseason and 8-1 on the road in their last 9 road playoff games. Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 27 points and also grabbed 7 rebounds. Paul Pierce chipped in with 19 points and Wall continued his stellar play in the playoffs with 18 points and 13 assists. The Wizards, like they have been able to so many times on the road, were able to slow the game down and completely discombobulate the Hawks in the second half. A big key for the Hawks is pace of play, and the Wizards were able to control it in the second half, allowing them to complete a marvelous comeback. It is clear the Wizards are a great road team and that they do not let the crowd affect their game plan. Hats off to the Wizards coach and former Hawk, Randy Wittman, and the rest of the Washington Wizards for adjusting in the second half, keeping their composure in a hostile environment, and stealing Game 1 on the road.
Retaining the Offense
A huge factor in the opening series versus the Brooklyn Nets was the lulls the Hawks would go through on offense. The Hawks came out of the gates on fire and set the tone early. At halftime, it looked like the Hawks could cruise to a Game 1 victory. In the second half, the Hawks moved the ball well, but they fell too in love with their jump shot. This game was a blueprint for the saying, live by the three die by the three. The Hawks started off the half missing open jumpers and never ceased firing. Unfortunately for the Hawks, the shooting just did not get any better, culminating in a fourth quarter in which they shot 5-for-28 from the field. The Hawks are a great shooting team, however, when the shots are not falling they need to attack the rim, get out in transition, and find a way to get easy baskets. It is easy to lose energy when the shots are not falling, so hopefully as the series moves forward the Hawks will attack the basket instead of settling for jump shots when they are going through these poor shooting stretches.
The Hawks Will Win This Series
Maybe I am just a homer, but I firmly believe the Hawks will come out on top in this series. Game 1 was somewhat discouraging, but the Hawk played terrific in the first half and are starting to look much more like the team that won 60 games in regular season. The second half was an absolutely dreadful shooting half, but the ball movement was there. The Hawks had tons of open shots from deadeye shooters like Korver and Carroll clank off the rim in the second half. I can personally guarantee you will not see another shooting performance like that from the Hawks. Also, as I mentioned earlier, the Wizards are road warriors. However, they are very vulnerable at home. The Wizards were able to blitz the Indiana Pacers last year in Game 1 on the road, but still fell in the series 4 games to 2. This is not time to panic. This is not the Hawks of old. These Hawks can win on the road, and while this series will be a dogfight, the Hawks will prevail. Expect to see the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since moving to Atlanta.