Wizards vs. Hawks Preview: Meet the third-best team in the East

Kevin C. Cox

For the third time in less than a month, the Wizards tangle with the Hawks.

We know the Atlanta Hawks pretty well by now, so this will be brief.

Where, When, and What Channel: The game will start at 7:00 p.m. at the Verizon Center. You can watch it on Comcast SportsNet.

Why You Should Care: DeShawn Stevenson is back in town! Time to ask him what he thought about Lincoln.

What They Do Well: The biggest key to the Hawks' success this season continues to be their defense. They've been top five on the defensive end all season long, and the biggest reason is how they force turnovers. The Hawks currently force teams into turnovers on 16 percent of possessions, the ninth-highest rate since 2000. Jeff Teague, Josh Smith and Louis Williams continue to spearhead Atlanta's ballhawking efforts, but credit deserves to be spread around to the rest of the roster as well.

What They Do Poorly: As we've said before when previewing the Hawks, the best chance at beating them is hoping they miss their jump shots, because they don't get to the line very often. The only teams who get to the line less often than Atlanta this season are Orlando and Philadelphia. While their offense as a whole is still very productive, the blueprint for slowing them down is fairly clear.

How the Wizards Match Up With Them: Defensively, the Wizards should be able to do a respectable job against Atlanta, as they have in their other meetings this season. They've fared much better against jump-shooting teams than teams who can get to the line with regularity. On the other end, things could get a lot messier if Jordan Crawford and Shaun Livingston can't protect the ball, which has been a big issue in the Wizards' last two games against the Lakers and Heat.

Also see: Fast Break with Dave Johnson and Glenn Consor.

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