After a very fast-paced start, the Wizards struggled offensively as the Hawks jumped out to a 34-27 lead, thanks to some hot shooting from Dennis Schroder. But Washington got back into the game thanks to some big shots from Otto Porter and Bojan Bogdanovic, who finally got going after struggling for most of the series. Their outside shooting helped the Wizards reclaim the lead before halftime and go up by 11 early in the third quarter.
Atlanta then responded with an 11-0 run, and from that point on, it was a back and forth battle the rest of the way. Schroder continued his hot shooting, finishing with 29 points on 18 shots, including a career-high five three-pointers. But on the other end, Bradley Beal responded with 25 of his own, and John Wall hit a jumper with 47 seconds left to put the Wizards up by 4. Washington then got the stops they needed on defense to help them hold on for the win.
The Wizards will play in Atlanta on Friday at 7 p.m. ET for a chance to advance to the second round.
Morris and Beal held it down early
Unlike most other games in this series, the start of Game 5 was not ravaged by foul calls, which allowed Washington to get into a flow without worrying about having to make an unexpected substitution. As a result, Markieff Morris was able to get hot, scoring 6 points in the first 6 minutes of the game. He only scored 2 more points the rest of the way, but the early scoring helped Washington keep pace.
Atlanta made a concerted effort to keep Wall from getting hot early, which worked, but opened up opportunities for Beal to get good off-ball scoring opportunities like this:
Beal wound up playing the entire first quarter and scored 11 of the team’s 23 points.
Together, Beal and Morris carried the Wizards during a quarter when Wall, Porter, and Gortat all struggled. Without Beal and Morris’ early contributions, this could have been a much different game.
Washington gets back in the paint
We talked earlier about how Atlanta took control of the paint in Games 3 & 4. Washington took control back in Game 5 with a different plan of attack. Defensively they played more conservatively on Dennis Schroder, which freed him up for more outside shots that he took advantage of during the game, but it ultimately paid off because it kept other players from getting good looks. The Hawks’ other starters combined to go 20-51 from the field and 3-16 from deep.
Offensively, the Wizards tweaked how they attacked the paint. Even though Atlanta hasn’t blocked a lot of shots in the series, they’ve been able to cut off penetration and disrupt shots they weren’t able to get their hands on. Wall and Beal changed things up by going for more floaters that they could get off cleanly, rather than attempting contested shots at the rim.
While the shots weren’t all that effective, it kept Atlanta from creating opportunities in transition off wild shots and kept the game from being decided by the referees as much.
No commentary needs to be added to this dunk:
guys. joe biden is at the wizards game. pic.twitter.com/Kfgs4qMlc0— kelly cohen (@politiCOHEN_) April 26, 2017
The Wizards outscored the Hawks by 11 after the team introduced Joe Biden early in the second quarter.
That’s not politics, it’s just analytics.