How the Hawks Can Fly Past the Wizards
*Photo via AJC
Five keys for the Hawks in this series.
The Atlanta Hawks were able to beat the Brooklyn Nets in round one. It wasn’t a typical one vs. eight series, the Nets were able to give the Hawks a little scare. Ultimately Atlanta handled business.
Now the Hawks will take on the Washington Wizards, who surprisingly swept the Toronto Raptors in the first round. This will be an intriguing matchup, the Hawks will need to play complete games and won’t be able to coast through the game. There is no question the Wizards are more consistent team than the Nets, and will take advantage of the Hawks if they don’t bring it every game.
1. Keep spreading the floor
The Wizards have a few starters such as, Marcin Gortat, Nene, and Paul Pierce, who are not extremely agile players. So if the Hawks can spread the floor it will be a lot more difficult for the Wizards to defend them. The Wizards will have the decision of helping out a teammate or sticking to their man. The Hawks will be able to score either way. If the Wizards decide the to help the Hawks will be getting good looks from outside, somewhere they are very comfortable shooting. If the Wizards stick to their man the Hawks will be able to find good looks in the paint, something no team minds. You might say to yourself, why can’t they just close-out and recover on the Hawks, well, like mentioned, the Wizards’ front-court aren't the fastest guys, and the Hawks move the ball extremely well. If the Hawks spread the floor the Wizards will have to pick their poison.
2. Get Paul Millsap and Al Horford involved
The games that Millsap and Horford imposed their will, the Hawks won, no surprise there. These two provide the Hawks with a mismatch against most teams, and especially against the Wizards. Both Horford and Millsap are comfortable handling the ball and taking jump shots outside. This is something that can become a problem for the Wizards, their bigs are more comfortable around the paint rather than the three-point line. This can really become a problem for the Wizards if these two are aggressive. Millsap specifically could give them an even bigger problem if his shoulder is a 100 percent. So look for the Hawks to get these two involved early and often.
3. Play as a team part one
The Hawks do not have a superstar so instead they rely on their well rounded starting lineup and play team basketball. It is very important that the Hawks do not forget this. They are a lot more deadly when they play as a team and move the ball. If they are moving the ball at all cylinders it is a thing of beauty. They always seem to always make the right pass and find the open man. Most teams do try to move the ball like this, but they don’t have five guys who can score like the Hawks. So keeping everyone involved will keep the Wizards honest and make them more difficult to defend,
4. Play as a team part two
The Hawks don’t only need to play as a team on offense but on defense as well. As a unit they do a great job of trapping players, rotating and just playing with active hands. This type of play requires team cohesion and a lot of energy, but when done right the Hawks are a tough team to deal with. This type of defense allows them to force turnover and get out at break exactly what the Hawks love to do.
5. Play with energy
The Hawks team style of basketball requires the team to play with a lot of energy, from constant player-movement to recovering on the defensive end of the floor. At times in the series against Brooklyn the Hawks would get stagnant, especially when their shots didn't fall. This series the Wizards will capitalize on those stretches so it's important the Hawks bring it all game long.
I know this series isn't getting a lot of love, but I really do think it will be an interesting match-up. A lot will come down to which team makes the better adjustment and are able to impose their style of basketball.
Prediction: The Hawks style will give the Wizards a problem and the Hawks will win six games.