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Wizards vs. Hawks preview: Washington heads to Atlanta to face worst team in the East

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NBA: Playoffs-Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Game Info

When: Wednesday, December 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia
TV: NBC Sports Washington
Win probability: Washington has a 66 percent chance of winning, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Injury Report

Wizards: Sheldon Mac (Out, Achilles)

Hawks; Dewayne Dedmon (Out, Leg), Mike Muscala (Questionable, Ankle)

What to Watch for

How does Washington handle the holiday hangover?

It’s always hard to avoid a letdown when you’re coming off a high-profile Christmas game against your rival, especially when win going from facing the best team in the East to taking on the worst team in the East. To make things worse, the Wizards are hosting the red-hot Rockets on Friday. Even the league’s most consistent teams would be susceptible to a letdown in this kind of situation.

The question isn’t whether or not there’s a struggle in this one, but how they manage things when it gets rough. The good news for Washington is most of Atlanta’s struggles have come on the defensive end this season. They’re fairly average offensively, but they have the second-worst defensive rating in the league this season.

If the Wizards can avoid beating themselves offensively, they’ll put themselves in a much better position to survive this trap game.

A random moment in Wizards - Hawks history: John Wall’s block shuts the door on Atlanta

The Hawks had gone on a 32-14 run over the ten minute span in the third and fourth quarter to turn what had been a 21 point lead into a one possession game. After a Bradley Beal committed a turnover, it looked like Atlanta was about to make it a one point game.

Then John Wall happened.

Wall scored on the ensuing possession and followed it by either scoring or assisting on 17 of the Wizards’ final 18 points as Washington won the game and the series over Atlanta.