The Hawks still have a chance to get the split all lower seeds look for when playing Games 1 and 2 on the road. Here are four adjustments we may look to make to grab a win in Game 2:
By KL Chouinard
1) Fast-break defense
The Hawks had what they wanted in the first half: a bumpy, defensive game where the Wizards didn’t get a ton of chances in transition and didn’t get a bunch of open threes. Then in the third quarter, John Wall starting pushing the ball at every opportunity, and the Wizards’ offense began to click. To slow Wall down, the Hawks will need to run back and show him multiple bodies in the paint while still being ready to dash out to contest jump shots.
Before Game 1, all of the Hawks said that the key to the series was transition defense, and it still is.
2) Make the Wizards feel Dwight Howard
Howard was a key component of the Hawks’ ability to limit Washington’s three-point game.
In order to limit threes, the Hawks defended pick and rolls with two defenders as often as possible. On those plays, Howard had a lot of responsibilities: leaning on Marcin Gortat, then sliding over to deter Wall from coming in the restricted area, then jumping back in front of Gortat to box him out.
At the same time, Howard is the strongest player on the court, so if the Wizards feel his physical presence a bit more in Game 2, that will only help the Hawks. One role where this would be particularly useful is as an offensive rebounder. If Howard gets going there, the Wizards will have a more difficult time running out on the break.
3) Get Tim Hardaway Jr. going
Hardaway made 2 of 11 shots in Game 1, but he only took two attempts in the first half. The Hawks need Hardaway; he is their best scoring option on the wing. Getting the ball to him early in Game 2 will help get him in a good rhythm and should pay dividends later in the game.
4) Ride the bench
Both the Hawks and Wizards are talented teams with skilled players up and down the roster. Players like Mike Muscala (who had a plus-minus rating of plus-20 in Game 1) and Kent Bazemore (plus-9 in Game 1) need to continue to pounce when Wall and Bradley Beal rest.