Atlanta Hawks Game Preview: Game One vs. Washington

Mar 22, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder (17) dribbles past Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris (5) during the second half at Verizon Center. The Washington Wizards won 104 – 100. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks are set to begin postseason play against the Washington Wizards. How will Game One turn out?

When: 1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday, April 16, 2017
Where: Verizon Center, Washington D.C.
How to Watch: TNT

For the tenth consecutive season, the Atlanta Hawks will play postseason basketball.

On Sunday afternoon, the Hawks (43-39) will square off with the Washington Wizards (49-33) in the 4-seed/5-seed matchup in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards won the season series between to two teams, 3-1, and match up fairly well against the Hawks.

Led by All-Star point guard John Wall, the Wizards have become one of the most exciting up-and-coming teams in the NBA and for good reason. Along with Wall, they deploy a stud shooting guard in Bradley Beal and Most Improved Player candidate Otto Porter on the wing.

The Wizards have had the talent to be a playoff threat in past years but the development of Wall and addition of Scott Brooks as head coach have allowed them to tap into some of their potential.

Now, the nation’s capital will host a playoff game for the first time since 2015 and have real chance to reach the Eastern Conference Finals. The energy from the home crowd will motivate the young, electric Wizards and make this a very difficult environment for the Hawks.

Wall is the real matchup problem for the Hawks because of his explosiveness and creative abilities. But the ability of Beal and Porter to knock down the three-ball provide some issues for a team in the Hawks that have been vulnerable to being hurt by a barrage of three-pointers.

But Paul Millsap presents a matchup problem of his own for the Hawks.

The Wizards lock a great defender that can go man-to-man with Millsap and he should be able to have his way with Markieff Morris. Millsap’s ability to get going in this game will be very critical. Because he will have to be Atlanta’s offensive anchor for as long as this playoff run lasts.

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But in order to match the offensive firepower of the Wizards, Tim Hardaway Jr. will need to be a consistent wing scorer. When hot, Hardaway is as dangerous as anyone in the NBA but can be streaky at times. His presence will be crucial, especially in the playoffs. When the pace slows, teams need a scorer in the half-court that they can lean on. Hardaway can be that guy, at times.

Prediction

It will be crucial for the Hawks to win at least one of the first two games in Washington but Game One will be very tough.

This appears to be the beginning of brighter days for the Wizards, as they are young, hungry, and athletic. The matchup isn’t great for the Hawks, to begin with, but the factor of the home crowd energizing them makes this an even more formidable challenge for the Hawks.

The Hawks’ experience makes them a live dog in this game for sure. But if they are to steal a game, I don’t see this as being the one. Wall will come out like he was shot out of a cannon in this game and with Wall at his best, the Hawks are in trouble.

Prediction: Wizards 108, Hawks 101
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