Wall set the tone in both halves with strong starts. The Wizards opened the first quarter on a 20-10 run and went on a 22-9 run to start the third quarter, thanks in large part to Wall setting the tempo early. Despite Atlanta’s best efforts to slow Wall down in transition, he was able to create scoring opportunities for himself and the rest of the starters, who all reached double-digits in the win.
There were some anxious moments in both halves when Wall was off the floor. Atlanta’s bench went on a big run in the second quarter, at one point taking an eight point lead in the first half, before Wall and company trimmed it down to three at halftime. The Hawks’ bench was again able to curb some of the momentum Washington developed in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Wizards from starting their series at home on the right foot with a win at home.
John Wall is just magnificent
I mean, just look at this guy do his thing. It never gets old:
Playoff Markieff was worth the price of admission
Markieff Morris was Washington’s big question mark going into this series. He was the only player in the starting lineup who did not have playoff experience, and he was going to be tasked with guarding Atlanta’s best player, Paul Millsap.
Washington would have been happy with respectable defense and avoiding foul trouble in this one, but Morris gave them so much more. He finished with 21 points while holding Millsap to 19. He also chipped in 4 blocks and threw down a few dunks to get the crowd into after a rough second quarter.
The Wizards probably can’t expect Morris to play at that high of a level the whole series, but if he can at least play somewhere near that level, it’s going to be a very short series.
The bench rotations were ... something
Look, we can all appreciate the great job Scott Brooks has done with the Wizards and simultaneously acknowledge that he wasn’t hired on the strength of his in-game tactics. He made a lot of questionable lineup decisions with the Thunder, especially in the playoffs, and there were certainly a few interesting ones in his first game with the Wizards.
- He still went with pairing John Wall and Brandon Jennings together at times, even though neither one is an exceptional outside shooter.
- Tomas Satoransky got some surprise playing time after being on the bench most of the last two months.
- Even though the Wizards have had almost a week off and don’t play again until Wednesday, Brooks didn’t stagger Wall and Beal in the first half to ensure one was on the floor at all times.
Wizards lose the battle at the free throw line
Atlanta doesn’t have a good offense. The worst thing you can do against a team with a bad offense hope is give them easy trips to the free throw line, and that’s just what happened in the first half. The Hawks had a 13 free throw advantage in the first 24 minutes, which allowed them to take a three point lead into the half.
Certainly, some of that was some questionable officiating, but the Wizards didn’t help their own cause with some sloppy reach-ins and trying to earn back fouls on the other end, which disrupted their offensive rhythm. Once Washington was able to keep them off the line a bit in the second half, the entire complexion of the game changed. Let’s hope the Wizards took note of how the game changed and adjust accordingly the rest of the series.