Washington looks to hold serve on their home court Wednesday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
The Wizards came out and threw the first punch in the series thanks in part to John Wall’s first career 30+ point, 10+ assist game in the playoffs in addition to the physicality brought by Markieff Morris. Washington will have to bring that physicality again if they want to come out on top in this one.
Their defense, which was a question mark during the second half of the season, was in full force as they turned the Hawks over 19 times to go along with eight steals and nine blocks.
If the Wizards are able to keep the duo of Dennis Schroder and Paul Millsap in check, that should be enough to give the Wizards a 2-0 advantage heading to Atlanta.
When: Wednesday, April 19th at 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic, Fox Sports Southeast, NBA TV
Radio: 1500 AM and Wizards Radio App
Wizards: Ian Mahinmi (Out, Calf)
What to watch for
What will the bench provide?
Yes, we’re back to this again. After a much-improved second half of the season, the bench reverted back to their old ways as the reserves combined for just 15 points (Oubre with 11, Bogdanovic with 4) on Sunday afternoon. After the Wizards took an early first quarter lead, Atlanta used a 17-2 run against the reserves to take an eight point advantage.
Oubre played well in his playoff debut, but all of the other reserves went missing for the majority of the game. Brandon Jennings was eventually able to get out in transition and set up guys for easy baskets in the second half, but his defensive woes still remain a huge concern. The Wizards need a much better game from the reserves in Game 2.
Is Marcin Gortat out of his slump?
It’s no secret that Gortat struggled down the stretch of the regular season. But he seemed to put that all behind him, if only for a game, as the Polish Hammer returned to the double-double machine that we’ve become accustomed to. He scored 14 points on 7-11 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds as he won the individual matchup between him and Dwight Howard.
Gortat grabbed or tapped back six offensive rebounds for the Wizards in Game 1. The Wizards will need another strong effort from Gortat in Game 2 to neutralize Howard on the boards.
Is this the new norm for Markieff Morris?
Markieff Morris got his first taste of the playoffs on Sunday and you could barely notice. No jitters or silly mistakes, just intense playoff basketball. Morris started his playoff career with 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks. But most importantly, his physical play clearly got Paul Millsap off of his game. Is this the new playoff Markieff Morris that we should become used to or was this just a one-time deal?
One thing is for sure, if Morris continues to play with that tenacity and can keep Millsap’s production to a minimum, the Wizards should be heading to Atlanta with a 2-0 lead.
Most Likely Wizards Killer: Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Wizards cannot afford to let Hardaway suck the energy out of the crowd with plays like this.