Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 10th game of the season against the Hawks in Atlanta are TAI’s Sean Fagan (@McCarrick) and guest Daniel Christian (@DChris_Hawks), who writes about the Hawks for the ESPN TrueHoop blog HawksHoop.com.
Wizards Starters (0-9):
Who knows? Randy Wittman indicated that he will change his starters, but will he have the balls to bench Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor? Can’t hurt at this point.
WHUT!?! UPDATED Starters:
Shaun Livingston, Jordan Crawford, Bradley Beal, Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin
The trio of Livingston/Crawford/Beal has spent a total of two minutes on the court together this season to the tune of minus-5 in plus/minus. One of those minutes came with Trevor Booker (out vs. Hawks) and Seraphin, the other minute came with Chris Singleton and Seraphin. So yea, this is all very new for Randy Wittman. [source: NBA.com/stats]
Hawks Starters (5-4):
Jeff Teague, Devin Harris, Kyle Korver, Josh Smith, Al Horford
Q #1: What have you done for me lately?
(What’s the status of the Hawks over the past week?)
@DChris_Hawks: The Hawks struggled early last week, losing to the Warriors thanks to an inability to control the boards (Horford was out) and some perplexing Larry Drew rotation issues. Atlanta did, however, finish the week strong. After blitzing through Sacramento to finish their West Coast road trip, the Hawks headed home to Atlanta and put a whooping on the Magic. Not exactly a heavyweight schedule over the last seven days, but the Hawks took care of business against inferior opponents in the latter half of the week.
Q #2: Who threw out my alarm clock?
(Which player(s) are we sleeping on?)
@DChris_Hawks: Everyone is sleeping on Jeff Teague, including Larry Drew. Teague, while at times erratic (especially in regard to turnovers), has been fantastic for most of the season. He’s part of the 50-40-90 club, he’s averaging over eight assists per 36 minutes, and he’s an absolute monster in the open court. However, Teague has always been the trendy pick, and, if you follow me on Twitter, I’m sure you’ll be able to detect a personal Jeff Teague bias. So, to separate myself from that, I’ll go Kyle Korver. When the guy is on, he is ON. Against Golden State and Sacramento, Korver shot a combined 7-for-8 from 3 and 12-for-15 overall. Of course, he regressed to the mean against Orlando and went 0-for-6, but there is no telling when Korver is going to shoot an opposing team into oblivion. Hawks fans have seen him do it before this season, and we’ll definitely see it again.
Q #3: What game-within-the-game counts most?
(What matchup between two players or between each team in a particular statistical category is most important.)
@DChris_Hawks: It has to be rebounding. The Hawks have been abused on the boards more than once this season, and that’s exactly why they’re 26th in the league in rebounds per game. The Wizards are a little better (18th), but they are also returning Nene, which should benefit them in that facet. [Ed. Note: Nene is unlikely to play tonight.] The Hawks have had a tendency to let obscure, individual matchups (Omer Asik, J.J. Hickson, Harrison Barnes) destroy them on the boards and hinder their chances of winning. If Atlanta can keep Washington’s front line in check in terms of rebounding, then they will be in good shape. If they don’t, then we might have a closer than expected game on our hands. And a lot of this is up to Josh Smith, whose rebounding rate is down this year and is a noticeable victim of just forgetting to box out a man flying in from the 3-point line at least once or twice a game. The other key is Zaza Pachulia, who disappears on the boards one game, and then comes back the next and will grab 15. It really just depends which front court shows up for Atlanta tonight, and even more importantly, how the Wizards play that front court.
Q #4: How it’s going down?
(TAI’s general key to the game.)
@McCarrick: We are entering uncharted waters here. Much like early explorers believed that if they sailed long enough they would fall off the edge of the world, I believe anything and everything is capable from this Wizards team. Fewest points scored in an NBA game? Most 3-pointers allowed to an opponent? Will we get the Kevin Seraphin who played a better post game in his last outing against Indiana in which he shot 6-15? Or are we going to get the guy who seemingly overnight forgot how to establish position in the post and forgot what a rebound is? If the Wizards expect to compete in the game, they need to establish a post presence early and often and try to get Beal and Crawford to the foul line as much as possible. Al Horford is the linchpin for the Hawks defense, and he covers up for the liabilities of Kyle Korver and the freelancing of Josh Smith, so the Wizards should try to accumulate as many points in the paint as possible. The problem is that the Hawks will be attempting the same game plan and the shooters that the Wizards have don’t make it work effectively. The best hope is that the Hawks have a cold shooting night (they don’t score much, as they rank 23rd in points scored per game) and their defense (which ranks second in the league) magically falls apart. I also have a bag of magic beans that I can sell you for the right price.
The Hawks are favored by 9.5 points and the over/under is 183 points (via USA Today).
@DChris_Hawks: There’s just no getting around the fact that the Wizards are a terrible team in their current state. It’s unfortunate that Wall and Nene have been out all season, but hopefully with Nene back, they can get things moving in the right direction. Having said that, I don’t even see a particular match-up where the Wizards have an advantage over Atlanta, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one turn into a blowout. I’ll say the Hawks win by 15, 109-94.
@McCarrick: Louis Williams. Kyle Korver. Both these gentleman kill the Wizards, and I don’t see tonight being any different. Add that to a possible DeShawn Stevenson revenge game, and I expect the 3s to come down like raindrops. This game is where the wheels fall completely off the bus. The Hawks are favored by 9.5, but I see a 20 point blowout in the making. Final prediction? Hawks 97, Wizards 74.