The Atlanta Hawks are on fire. Serious fire: They have only lost three of their last 26 games.
They are sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference with a three game lead on Toronto, Washington and Chicago. Should the Wizards lose, they will fall back down to fourth place after snagging second place when they defeated the Bulls on Friday.
Winning this game is important for the Wizards if they want to keep pace with the Hawks in the East. More importantly, it is an important game to win with the San Antonio Spurs and Bulls coming up on the schedule once again. The Wizards are facing playoff teams in four consecutive games and have a chance to cushion their place in the standings, while still proving they are contenders and not pretenders.
Beating the Hawks would go a long way in getting to the top spot in the East. The Hawks are hot right now, but the Wizards have snapped other team's winning streaks in the past. Lets hope they can do that here and not become a part of this one.
Where and when: The game is at Phillips Arena in downtown Atlanta at 3 p.m. You will be able to catch it on CSN Washington and you can listen to it on 99.1 WNEW if you're going to be out on the road.
Injuries: Everyone is healthy for the game on both sides.
Are they good?: Rumor has it that the Hawks are looking to go 74-8 this season. Yes. They are very good.
Who do we watch on the other team?: Everyone on their team is a threat to score. They have an awesome big three in Paul Millsap, Al Horford and Jeff Teague. Millsap has been their best player over the last season or so, but Jeff Teague has been playing on another level so far this season.
There is an argument out there that he has been the best point guard in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards should know all about that. The last time these two teams played, Teague dropped off a cool 28 points and got to the free throw line 14 times. He's really hard to guard with no help behind you--even when the best defensive point guard in the league is guarding him.
The Hawks' offense focuses on spreading the floor and giving Teague lanes to drive and kick. Everyone on the team can shoot, so the Wizards will have to stay home to prevent the three ball from flying.
What do the Wizards have to do to win?: Chop the head off of the snake. If the Wizards can hold Jeff Tegaue down, they have a great shot at winning this game. Teague has been a great setup man and scorer this season, so it'll be a tough cover for Wall and crew. But if they can stick in front of him instead and keep him going laterally instead of allowing him a path to the rim, they will be fine.
The Wizards also have to focus on keeping one man on Kyle Korver. Korver is shooting 51 percent from deep this season and is taking almost six threes per game. Whoever is guarding him has to keep him in their sights and make sure they're putting a hand in his face.
When he is coming off of screens, you cannot lose him and have a big running up to cover him. He's great at jump passing and hitting the big who gets left behind as a result of him losing his man. Everyone has to be covered for this thing to work, and hopefully the Wizards get that done today.