Opening Statements: Wizards vs Hawks, Game 80 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Hawks, Game 80

Updated: April 12, 2015


The Washington Wizards for weeks have played under a cloud of anxiety, not so much in terms of winning games, but more just trying to get the regular season over with. Their position as best playoff team without home-court advantage in the Eastern conference has been solidified, aside from a couple flirtations, for just as long. The anxiety has taken many forms—blowout losses, lopsided quarters, confidence-builders versus weaker opponents, denial of offense issues (even once taking issue with the offense), resting players, and aging players. These Wizards are no more consistent of a team now than they were this same time last season. The expectation was that they would grow up—some individuals have, but the team hasn’t. Still, it’s okay to recognize the disappointment in the Wizards not meeting expectations this season while acknowledging that hope exists for the second season, the NBA playoffs.

Washington plays the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, traditionally not a great day to be a Wizard (they are 2-6 on Sundays this season, 2-4 last season). There’s no reason to think what Atlanta has built and displayed season can’t take them all the way to NBA Finals. Still, the Hawks have their own challenges—they are not playoff tested and are now dealing with the loss of Thabo Sefolosha, so they can not afford to find reasons to question themselves heading into a postseason under their own constructed high expectations. Atlanta also knows that their brand of basketball puts them at an advantage over Washington before the two teams even step on the floor to compete. Sure, the Wizards played the Hawks tight once this season (way back in November, the Wizards lost by four points), but it didn’t feel close—Atlanta won by 31 points in January and by nine points in February.

In the back of these teams’ mind, they see each other as a potential second round playoff matchup, so today’s game, regardless of who plays, give both coaches insight as to how the other thinks, even if the outcome and whatever happens within isn’t too revealing in terms of the big picture. Because, well, Washington has everyone available (aside from Garrett Temple) and is going with their normal starting lineup. Atlanta, as has been part of their patterned plan, will start a second unit of Dennis Schroder, John Jenkins, Kent Bazemore, Elton Brand, and Mike Muscala while intending, according to coach Mike Budenholzer, to start their normal lineup on Monday against the Knicks. Two playoff ships criss-crossing in the night.

Teams: Wizards vs Hawks
Time: 6:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Television: CSN/NBATV
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards favored by 9.5 points.

Pre-Game Stuff.

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.