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Wizards vs. Hawks Game 4 Preview: Frontcourt will be key without Wall

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With John Wall likely out once again for Game 4, Nene and Marcin Gortat will be important players as the Wizards look to gain a two-game advantage in the series.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Game info:

Where and When?

The Washington Wizards host the Atlanta Hawks Monday night at 7 p.m. at the Verizon Center.


The game will air on TNT.


Per usual, the #RadioParty will be on 99.1 WNEW

Injury Report?

Things still aren’t looking good for John Wall. Randy Wittman told J. Michael of Comcast SportsNet on Sunday Wall’s injury (five non-displaced fractures in his left hand) was "heading in the right direction," but that he wasn’t ready for any activity on the court. Monday morning at shootaround, Wittman provided another update on Wall's status:

Being able to dribble seems like something a point guard should be able to do with both hands before being able to play. Expect him to be out for Game 4.

Other than the pre-existing Thabo Sefolosha injury, nothing new to report on the Hawks’ side of things. Al Horford and DeMarre Carroll both left Game 3 early with injuries, but there’s nothing showing that either of them would miss this one.

Storylines for Game 4

Can Nene repeat his Game 3 performance?

Nene scored two points, shot 0-for-9 from the floor and only had seven rebounds in 44 minutes of action in Games 1 & 2. His performance was significantly better in Game 3, only missing two of his nine shots and scoring 17 points to go along with seven rebounds, a block and a steal. If Washington wants to be successful without Wall, they are going to need their frontcourt of Nene and Marcin Gortat at their peak. It’s possible to push around Atlanta’s bigs in the paint, but it’d be much better to have Nene in that role than Kevin Seraphin or Kris Humphries.

Will Bradley Beal continue to be a distributor?

Without Wall, Beal has become a part-time primary ball handler to platoon alongside Ramon Sessions. He has 15 assists in his past two games. In the playoffs this season, Washington’s assistant percentage is 15 percent higher with Beal on the court than when he’s off the court, per The assist percentage is also five percent higher than Washington’s opponents when Beal is playing.

How long can the Wizards keep the lid on Jeff Teague?

Outside of players who were injured, Teague might be the most disappointing player of these playoffs. Question is, how much longer will he struggle? This series, he’s shooting under 30 percent from the floor, and has generated a lot of his offense from the free throw line. Teague was by no means impressive in the Hawks’ first-round matchup against the Brooklyn Nets, but he at least shot almost 40 percent and averaged 14.2 points per game. His assist numbers are still up against the Wizards, but I find it difficult to believe that Teague is going to be in this slump for the remainder of his time in the playoffs.