DC Council Round 2, Game 1: Wizards at Hawks — D.C. Counterpunch Drops Atlanta | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

DC Council Round 2, Game 1: Wizards at Hawks — D.C. Counterpunch Drops Atlanta

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Updated: May 3, 2015

Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council:
Grading Wizards players from Second Round Playoff Game No. 1:
Washington Wizards versus the Atlanta Hawks in Georgia.
Contributor: Bryan Frantz from the 202.

DC-Council-Logo-2

Well, shit.

Who among you predicted the Wizards going 5-0 to start the postseason? Go ahead, lie. It’s the Internet and I won’t be able to call you out on it, but you know you didn’t. I sure as hell didn’t.

Yet here we are, with the Wiz so far undefeated in playoff action, and 60 percent of the wins have come in enemy territory. What a world.

With both halves of Washington’s upstart backcourt giving #WizardsTwitter heart palpitations, taking knocks (and a kick to the face), it’s a miracle anybody in the District actually saw the game’s conclusion. (If you didn’t, the good guys won.)

Paul Pierce, as he has so many times this year, got the Wizards started with seven straight points, but when he went cold after that so did the rest of the team. It seemed like it would get real ugly, real fast in the ATL, but then, somehow, some way, it didn’t. The Wizards got their shit together as the game progressed and pulled through, to equal parts surprise and delight from the 202.


 

Washington Wizards

104

Final

Box Score

Atlanta Hawks

98

Nene Hilario, PF

17 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | -3 +/-

This series might now bode well for the Brazilian big man, and Game 1 was perhaps just the first of 4-to-7 poor showings. Nene does not match up especially well with Atlanta’s big man duo of Paul Millsap and Al Horford, who combined for 29 rebounds on Sunday, and he could be the odd man out in this matchup. The best chance he has of being offensively successful against Millsap is if he uses that nifty, big man footwork we’ve all come to know and love. He’s faster than Millsap is, and he’s surprisingly capable when he puts the ball on the floor, so while I can’t believe I’m about to type these words, maybe a Nene isolation or two would be a good idea.

Nene was on the court for less than six minutes after halftime; each of the other Wizards starters got at least 16 minutes in the second half, as did Otto Porter; Drew Gooden was the only Wizard who entered the game to play fewer minutes in the second half. It was not a good outing, and there’s a pretty good chance the rest of the series will go the same way for Nene, but he’s got to be more active on offense.


Paul Pierce, SF

31 MIN | 7-15 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 19 PTS | -4 +/-

For the first time in seemingly forever, The Truth didn’t knock down any backbreaking, fourth quarter 3s in a postseason game. It hasn’t actually been that long, but can we just take yet another moment to revel in Pierce’s glory from the Toronto series? Pierce did plenty to help guide the young bucks to a W (despite at one point missing six consecutive shots), but he was one of the numerous culprits who left DeMarre Carroll wide-open on the perimeter in the first half, and Carroll beat Pierce on backdoor cuts more than once in the second half.

Pierce came out hot in the first quarter, draining three shots in less than three minutes to open up the series. After the third bucket, somebody must have been using the sink elsewhere because the water in Pierce’s shower suddenly went cold. He missed open shots and contested shots, desperate to get his rhythm going again, and he picked up two early fouls in the process. He finally got back on track and finished with a modest 19 points on 15 shots, taking very few bad shots, and the threat of him getting hot again kept the Atlanta defense honest. He also drew a few double-teams early after starting so well, which opened things up for the rest of the offense.


Marcin Gortat, C

38 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 12 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | 0 +/-

I give endless credit to Marcin Gortat for his performance in Game 1, not because he played a stellar game by any stretch, but because he stuck it out. After a poor start, Gortat looked much better in the second quarter and better still in the second half. He stayed active throughout the game, both on offense and defense, something that Nene was not offering, and he kept a few possessions alive with well-directed tapouts on the glass.

He loses some praise for allowing the Hawks to rack up so many offensive rebounds (16 in total), but in fairness, he was basically alone in the paint all game. With Nene essentially out of the game from the opening tip, it was up to the Polish Hammer to lock down the paint, and he gave a valiant effort. Gortat has had a tough season in some respects, but I really liked his energy level and performance after the first quarter on Sunday.


John Wall, PG

39 MIN | 8-19 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 13 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | -6 +/-

What a game by Colin Cowherd’s dancin’ fool. The reckless, immature, showboaty point guard who will never be an elite player led his young team to yet another road playoff win, and he did it with a bum wrist. Of course, he probably hurt the wrist dancing, not by landing on it, so it’s his own fault anyway.

Shade sent Cowherd’s way aside, Wall was exceptional in this game. He made plays all over the court, he pushed the pace early and slowed it down when the train started coming off the tracks, he covered his own mistakes and those of his teammates on defense with three blocks (a game-high and two more than the rest of the Wizards combined), he took mostly good shots, and he didn’t try to force passes against a very smart Atlanta defense. Wall’s 13 assists were impressive, but he could have neared a new career high if his shooters had knocked down a few more open shots. He’s averaging a league-leading 12.6 assists per game in the post-season; Chris Paul is in second with a distant 7.9.


Bradley Beal, SG

40 MIN | 9-22 FG | 8-10 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 28 PTS | +8 +/-

The younger half of the House of Guards was almost as impressive on Sunday, and he also played through an injury scare. (What’s a more dramatic word for scare? Terror? Consternation? Trepidation? I don’t know, but whatever it is, that’s what Beal endured.)

Beal went down with a sprained right ankle with about eight minutes left in regulation, screaming in pain and pounding his fist against the hardwood. Each time his hand met the floor, another young Wizards fan burst into tears, terrified that the star 21-year-old was once again to be sidelined with a lower leg injury.

Yet, taking a page out of Pierce’s playbook, Beal returned to the court after less than five minutes of game time. He didn’t take another shot after that, but the threat of him knocking down a momentum-shifting 3 kept the Hawks focused on him, which gave Wall and Porter room to operate.

While he didn’t shoot especially well on Sunday afternoon, Beal improved as he went and didn’t let his misses affect his confidence, which was a problem he has struggled with in the past. To use a pair of sports cliches, it was “a real gutsy performance” by “a young man who’s just starting to find his way in this league.”


Drew Gooden, PF

14 MIN | 3-6 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +10 +/-

Every source I check says he’s 33, but I swear Big Drizzle has to be at least 50 by now. Still, the man is timeless. Gooden went 2-for-3 from deep and piled up 12 points and five boards, as well as the only block by a Wizard not named John Wall, in just 14 minutes. He also picked up four fouls in that time, which is what led to a Kevin Seraphin sighting, but we won’t fault him too much for that.


Otto Porter Jr., SF

34 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +11 +/-

Who is this Otto Porter, and what did Randy Wittman do with the gangly kid who racked up numerous DNP-CDs this season? This postseason has been a coming-out party that Wizards fans expected more than a year ago but are still giddy for now, and The Formerly Goggled One is looking worthy of a sixth man or even starting role on a contender. He stroked 3s, fought for loose balls, and hit a nifty little floater in the first period. He also set a career high with 11 rebounds, which led to his first-ever double-double.


Kevin Seraphin, C

9 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +4 +/-

Something had to give, right? Seraphin certainly wasn’t awful on Sunday, but he was easily the worst non-Brazilian Wizard on the court. It wasn’t his fault that he was in the game in the first place—with Pierce and Gooden in foul trouble for much of the game, Wittman somewhat surprisingly opted for #KSlife instead of #HumpDay. He banged bodies down low a bit, which Gortat surely appreciated, and he didn’t totally dominate the ball when it found its way to him, so some kudos are in order, but he mostly just took up space and gave other players a chance to rest. Somebody’s gotta do it, I guess.


Ramon Sessions, PG

17 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +10 +/-

While I have to burn him for missing yet another layup, I also have to bite the bullet on this one. I’ve been pretty hard on Sesh since the Wizards traded The (beloved) Professor for him, but he came up big for Washington in this game. In his first action, Sessions briefly played the 2 but then took over Wall’s position running point, and he deserves a lot of credit for putting out the early fire.

The Hawks went up by double-digits early, leading by 11 after the first quarter, and it seemed this game could get out of hand quickly with Wall on the bench. But Sessions did exactly what he was brought in to do and jump-started the second unit. He attacked the basket and forced the Atlanta defense to collapse, which left other Wizards open. He stopped the bleeding and worked the deficit back down to a manageable six points by the time Wall replaced him, so I tip my hat to Mr. Sessions and apologize for previous harsh words. He still needs to spend a few extra hours in the layup lines, though.


 

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Bryan Frantz
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Bryan is a D.C. native with a degree in something or other from UNC. He has important, interesting hobbies, but mostly he just weeps over D.C. sports teams. You can find him on the Metro, inevitably complaining about Red Line delays.