UPDATE: As you might have heard by now, Washington point guard John Wall will not play tonight because of a sprained wrist, suffered in Game 1. The stunning announcement was made after Wizards coach Randy Wittman had told the media that all of his players would be available in the game. Shooting guard Bradley Beal (sprained ankle) seemed like the bigger injury concern coming out of the series opener Sunday but Beal is in the lineup. Ramon Sessions will start at point guard for Washington.
The Hawks lost the opening game of their second-round series against Washington for two big reasons: 1) They settled for jump shots too often instead of driving to the basket; 2) While they settled for jumpers, many/most were easy and open shots but they missed, anyway.
But there was another reason for the defeat that hasn’t been talked about as much: The Hawks didn’t match the Wizards’ physical play. It showed up at both ends of the court, but particularly offensively. It follows that how they do in Game 2 tonight at Philips Arena and for the rest of the series will depend at least in part on physical they play.
A few comments from players following this morning’s shoot-around:
— Forward Paul Millsap, when asked if he expected the series to get more physical: “Of course, especially with the personnel they’ve got and the magnitude of the game. We’ve just got to match it. We have to be the first one to be physical. There’s a lot of things we discussed (in film sessions).”
— Guard Jeff Teague: “They’re a physical team. We’re going to have to step up our physical play, too. They have guys who bang and push and we have guys who bang and push too. … It definitely showed up in Game 1. They brought it to us. We’re going to have to step up.”
— Millsap on Hawks players whining too much on non-calls: “If we don’t get calls, just keep moving on — don’t complain about calls or let their physicality affect what we do. Continue driving to the basket, get fouled. All of that is what being aggressive and being physical is all about, not just going out there and literally punching somebody or bumping somebody.”
The Hawks have yet to play four strong quarters in a postseason game. If that doesn’t change, their postseason will end in this round.
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