The Atlanta Hawks opened playoff play Sunday afternoon in Washington, and in what was a tough physical game, a loss leads to more questions.
There was no question that this opening playoff series with Washington was going to be easy. After all, the Wizards led the season series 3-1. Game one of the playoff series reintroduced and reinforced some familiar themes and questions. If the Atlanta Hawks look to advance, they’ll have to answer some of those questions.
In all four games, between these two teams, in the 2016-2017 season, match-ups have been an issue for Atlanta against Washington. Dennis Schroder struggles to contain John Wall. Whichever SG Atlanta plays can’t contain Bradley Beal. And Atlanta’s Front Court, a supposed strength, gets bodied up with physical play.
Sunday was no different. Six Washington players finished in double figures. Only four for Atlanta. Three Wizards finished with 20 points, or more. There was only one for Atlanta.
But that’s not the only cause for concern. Atlanta went to the charity stripe a whopping 39 times, and still lost. That is an incredible stat. One that this writer can’t ever remember seeing before.
More from ATL All Day
- Atlanta Braves: Felix Has Already Shown Enough to Win a Rotation Spot
- Atlanta Braves Implode Late To Phillies, Cole Hamels Remains Sidelined
- Kyle Wright Shines As Folty Struggles In Atlanta Braves Loss To Red Sox
- Atlanta Hawks Sweep Back-to-Back Games Over Weekend
- Atlanta Braves: Grapefruit League Play Check Up
It is true that Atlanta made 32 of those 39 free throw attempts. But Washington made 16 of 17 from the line. That’s a clear missed opportunity. I don’t care if you get 60 free throws, you can’t miss seven of them, and win on the road.
Another poison pill that has stymied Atlanta all year is turnovers. The Hawks turned the ball over 19 times to Washington’s 12. That is on the road and in a physical game. Couple that with seven missed free throws, and you get the picture.
Back to the match-up problem. It is clear that Wall is going to get his. But Atlanta can’t let him get 30-plus and then let five other dudes get double digits. If they do, Dwight Howard and Tim Hardaway Jr. have to contribute more than seven points a piece.
There were positives, though. Schroder did get 25 points on 50% shooting. Howard hauled in 14 rebounds, and surely won’t be that anemic again with scoring. Surely Hardaway Jr. doesn’t go 0-6 from 3 point range again. The Hawks can improve and win.
This was never going to be an easy series for our beloved Atlanta Hawks. They battled and had a chance on the road while playing dismally. That means something.
But in order to win, and this means in seven games, they’ll have to win on the road at least once. It is clear Washington presents match-up problems. If the Hawks are going to win, they can’t turn the ball over 19 times and miss seven free throws.
The great thing is that they control those things. They can still win this series. They just have to do the things that winning basketball teams do to win. Make free throws and don’t turn the ball over.