Washington heads to Atlanta for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Friday looking to close out the Hawks on their home floor. This will not be an easy task as the home team has yet to lose in this series. However, John Wall and Bradley Beal know what it takes to close out a team on the road. They pulled it off in 2014 when they eliminated the Bulls in Chicago.
When: Friday, April 28th at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic, NBA TV, ESPN U
Radio: 1500 AM and Wizards Radio App
Wizards: Ian Mahinmi (Game Time Decision, Calf) Jason Smith (Game Time Decision, Calf)
What to watch for
What role players will step up for the Wizards?
We all know that role players tend to play better within the confines of their home stadium. On Wednesday, Otto Porter and Bojan Bogdanovic, who have struggled at times during this series, scored 17 and 14 points respectively for Washington. Although Porter has turned into prolific a three-point shooter this year, Otto stuck to his bread and butter in Game 5, crashing the offensive glass and slashing to the hole resulting in 10 free throw attempts.
The onus will be on Bogdanovic to carry this momentum into Game 6 as the reserves have looked more like the unit we remember in November than the one in March in this series.
Will Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat break out of their funks?
Morris played very well in Game 1 while Gortat played well in Games 1 and 2 only to have their production disappear ever since. Markieff Morris has spent much of the series in foul trouble while Dwight Howard’s defense has hampered Gortat’s production. If the Wizards are going to win this game, they are going to need nice games from one of, if not both of these guys.
The Wizards were able to win Game 5 without much production from either of these two but as we’ve come to find out, winning on the road is a different animal.
Will we see any more adjustments?
In Game 5, Coach Scott Brooks made two huge adjustments. The Wizards trapped Paul Millsap in the post on occasion and he tweaked his lineups yet again as either Wall or Beal were on the court at all times. With Jason Smith questionable, it’ll be interesting to see if the Wizards go with a small ball lineup to really spread the floor out as they are now, very thin up front.
As this is the playoffs, I don’t think we’ll see the rookie, Daniel Ochefu. That means either Porter or Bogdanovic will have to play the backup power forward position. This could be a positive wrinkle as we may now see a Wall-Beal-Porter-Bogdanovic-Morris lineup. However, if Brooks doesn’t opt to go small, expect heavy minutes from Gortat as I don’t think he’ll trust Ochefu with the series on the line.
Most Likely Wizards Killer: Dennis Schroder
This is kind of a cop out as Schroder is already killing the Wizards in this series. He is averaging 24.4 points and is shooting 43.8 percent from three-point range in the series, both way above his season highs. I don’t think Schroder will have a game where he goes 5-6 from three-point range again but the Wizards must keep him in check if they’re going to win this game and close out the series.