John Wall declared he and Bradley Beal would be ready for the next game after their Game 1 victory. Unfortunately the wrist he injured early in that game swelled up significantly, and Wall was surprisingly announced as inactive prior to Game 2. The Wizards put up a fight without their star, but the Hawks just had too much. Atlanta rode a dominant final six minutes to a 106-90 victory, a score that undersells Washington’s competitiveness in this one.
With his partner out, Beal tried to do it all himself. He scored 20 points on 22 shots in a whopping 43 minutes. With no Wall, Beal relied a lot more on penetration and interior jumpers, taking just three triples (he made two). With Ramon Sessions playing 40 minutes next to him, it wasn’t going to be enough. Sessions actually performed admirably, knocking down eight of 14 en route to a team-high 21 points. He’s always been able to score, but Jeff Teague sliced him up inside time and time again.
Teague and the other Hawks starters turned in a well-rounded effort that reminds you why they were so damn good for a long stretch of the season. Teague missed nine of his 12 shots, but his constant penetration opened up worlds of space, and he notched eight assists and seven boards. Al Horford and Paul Millsap scored 18 points apiece.
Horford was lethal in the mid-range and snuck between the Wizards bigs for several open dunks and layups. Millsap missed 10 of his 16 shots but added 11 boards, five assists and four steals. He also led Atlanta with six free throw attempts, where a 25 to 14 discrepancy favored the Hawks.
In fact, the only Hawk (that played more than four minutes, shout out Mike Muscala first quarter minutes) not to take a free throw was Kyle Korver. He took all 11 of his shots from behind the arc, making only one of seven before halftime. However, starting early in the third quarter, Korver drained three of four triples in the second half, all in key moments. He also somehow added three blocks with ferocious defense and was a team-high +20 in 40 minutes.
Even the Hawks bench couldn’t miss. Pero Antic knocked down two of five from deep while Kent Bazemore calmly drilled all three of his big shots. Dennis Schroder was fantastic, tallying nine points, five rebounds, and four assists in only 15 minutes. He took over the game for the brief stretches he played.
Believe it or not, this was still a fairly encouraging game for Washington. John Wall is by far their best player and likely the best player in the series as well. The Wizards came out playing with the intensity and focus necessary to prevail in the playoffs but simply had too big of a talent deficit. There were undoubtedly positive signs though, as Atlanta struggled to fully put the Wiz away until halfway through the final quarter.
Otto Porter Jr. continues to matter. Porter posted 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals without a turnover in 31 minutes off the bench. His defense has remained solid while the shots keep falling. Porter’s activity on the glass on both ends in incredible for a player his size. He’s averaging eight rebounds a game in the playoffs off the bench at small forward! The Wizards need John Wall back to take out the Hawks, but they can and should be excited about the rapid development of their once and future prized prospect.