Why The Wizards Are The Most Exciting Team In The Playoffs

John Wall lit up the court Wednesday night as the Verizon Center crowd rained down chants of “M-V-P.” Wall put up 32 points and nine assists for the Wizards to help them take a 2-0 lead over the Hawks.

The Wizards are beginning to prove themselves as legit as the playoff season continues to kick into gear. They’re not on the level of teams like the Warriors and Cavs, but one things is becoming clear: the Washington Wizards are the most exciting team in the playoffs.

Obviously, the excitement starts with John Wall. Wall took a steal the length of the court before finishing off with a nasty dunk on Dennis Schroder early in the second half, prompting Wall to stare down Schroder.

Wall has been publicly critical of his lack of appearances on national TV, and he seems to be taking this opportunity to show NBA fans just how great he is. Wall hit Schroder with a filthy spin move before draining a step back dagger to extend the Wizards’ lead later in the game.

Wall’s speed in transition, top notch ball handling and elite playmaking ability make him one of the most fun guys to watch in the league. He’s constantly made tough passes through the first two games of the series while showing his improved skill around the rim as a slasher.

The Wizards are made even more exciting by the second piece of their backcourt, Bradley Beal. Beal has struggled with injuries during every year before this one. He’s used this period of health to show what a great player he is when he can stay on the court.

(courtesy of Bleacher Report)

After struggling from beyond the arc during Game 1, Beal hit four 3-pointers on his way to 31 points Wednesday. Although streaky, Beal’s scoring ability is undeniable and he has turned into one of the more exciting shooting guards in the league. He also put up 16 of his 31 points in the 4th quarter to help the Wizards close out the Hawks, including a dagger 3-pointer that sealed the win.

Head coach Scott Brooks does have a knack for bringing the best out of players offensively, and he has clearly had a positive impact on Wall and Beal this season.

Markieff Morris has been another key factor in the Wizards’ success this season. Despite getting into early foul trouble in Game 2, Morris has added a physical presence to the Wizards that was desperately needed.

Morris came up huge in Game 1. He had two emphatic dunks and four monstrous blocks on the Hawks that helped the Wizards establish their physical presence from the get-go.

With Marcin Gortat and Otto Porter filling out the starting lineup, the Wizards have an incredibly dangerous starting five. Gortat and Wall have been deadly while running the pick and roll. With Wall’s playmaking ability and Gortat’s offensive prowess in the post, the duo has been consistently exciting to watch.

It will be interesting to see how the Wizards play with a 2-0 lead. They play the next two games on the road where they have struggled immensely this season. Still, every game for the Wizards should continue to be exciting with the talent they are able to put on the floor and the tenacity that the team has. So far, they truly look like they could contend with anyone in the Eastern Conference.

 

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Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

The second season is finally upon us. It is the time of year that all NBA fans have been salivating for all season.

There are so many questions left to be answered in the second season of the Eastern Conference. Will the Cavs fall, thus ending LeBron’s finals streak? Will the Celtics prove to be the best of the East? Could another team like the Raptors, Wizards or Bucks come out?

It will be fun to watch it all play out. Here is the preview of the Eastern Conference first round.

1 Boston Celtics vs. 8 Chicago Bulls

Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

(Photo Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)

The Celtics and Bulls have had some amazing playoff series in the past. There was the time Michael Jordan dropped 63 points in a loss or the time they put on an epic seven-game series in 2009 that featured a total of seven overtimes.

These two teams split the season series, each winning two games. Chicago plays really well against winning teams and especially well on national television.

However, in a seven-game series, the better team is going to win. Boston averages 108 points per game, which is seventh-best in the NBA. Chicago on the other hand averages almost 103, which ranks 23rd in the NBA. Chicago will make it tough, but the Celtics’ defense will stifle the Bulls in the end.

Prediction: Celtics in 6

2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. 7 Indiana Pacers

Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Stop with the talk about how bad the Cavs have played. Like many past teams, they were just pacing themselves. The regular season means nothing to a team who has been to two straight finals, or to a player like LeBron James who has been to six straight finals.

Watch the switch get flipped in the playoffs. Indiana has a chance to steal a game or two with a superstar like Paul George, but that is it.

The Cavaliers will pick up the defense. With a healthy LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, their offense will keep them on course. Averaging 110 points per game leaves a little room for error on the defensive end.

LeBron-led teams have proven time and time again that they buckle down in the playoffs. Until proven otherwise, that will happen again this year.

Prediction: Cavaliers in 5

3 Toronto Raptors vs. 6 Milwaukee Bucks

Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)

Toronto versus Milwaukee is one of the most intriguing matchups of the first round. Giannis “The Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo will get a chance to shine on a national stage. The Greek Freak is the first player in NBA history to end the season in the top 20 of all major statistical categories.

Giannis is a great player, but lacks experience and a team that can do damage in the playoffs. The Bucks haven’t made the playoffs consistently in recent years, while the Raptors are heading into the playoffs for their fourth consecutive year. Toronto also reached the conference finals for the first time ever in franchise history last season, and they have improved their depth this year.

Toronto won over 50 games this season and finished the season winning eight of their final 10. The Raptors are hot and the better team, which is why they win this series without much of a worry.

Prediction: Raptors in 5

4 Washington Wizards vs. 5 Atlanta Hawks

Eastern Conference Playoff Preview

(Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Washington has had one of their best seasons in franchise history. They finished 49-33, which was the third most wins they have ever had. Scott Brooks has not gotten the respect he deserves for how well he has done with the Wizards.

Washington has the best chance of upsetting the Cavs in the playoffs, but they must get past Atlanta first. The Wizards went 3-1 versus the Hawks this season. If the Wizards want to repeat that success they had in the regular season, they will need their stellar backcourt to lead them there.

The Wizards will win this series because John Wall and Bradley Beal combine to average 46.2 points per game, 7.3 rebounds per game, and 14.2 assists per game. Atlanta’s backcourt of Dennis Schroder and Tim Hardaway Jr. will be outmatched in this series and that will be the difference.

Prediction: Wizards in 6

You can check out the Western Conference Playoff Preview here.

 

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Seven Stats or Less: Atlanta Hawks

This 2016-2017 season for the Atlanta Hawks has been a bit of a roller coaster. After the events of the offseason, there has been some expected trauma. Now in the middle of an 8-1 stretch in their last nine games, things have seemed to settle down for the team that sits fourth in the jumbled Eastern Conference. Today, we’ll go over some Atlanta Hawks stats that help illustrate the team’s structure.

The team is sure to be a major player at the trade deadline, or then again maybe not. That’s how it has gone for the Hawks this year, a hard team to grasp a handle on, but very entertaining to follow. On to the stats.

  1. This season for the Atlanta Hawks sees them 21st in offensive efficiency and 8th in defensive efficiency. Losing Al Horford and Jeff Teague undoubtedly hurt the offense, but the defense has remained steady. Trading Kyle Korver a couple of weeks ago will have its effects. However, Mike Dunleavy has showed he should be able to contribute the team in his two showings for the Hawks. Coach Mike Budenholzer and his staff are making sure that even if the team isn’t scoring, the opponent isn’t either. The team also adept at forcing turnovers and creating offense out of the oppositions’ mistakes – 17 points off of turnovers.
    Atlanta Hawks Stats

    Via USA Today Sports Images

  2. Atlanta is long and rangy on the defensive end and they know it. When the team is engaged, they use that length and energy to become a terror on that end. Top ten in deflections and recovered loose balls, getting in the passing lanes and or poking balls away is and easy way to disrupt what teams are doing on offense. Out-hustling the other five guys on the court for loose balls is a great to build momentum and keep possessions alive.
  3. Before the home loss to the Boston Celtics, the Hawks were on a seven-game winning streak and playing well. Someone who went a tad bit under the radar was Dwight Howard, specifically his rebounding. During the win-streak, Howard posted 2 games of 20+ rebounds. Over the last five games he’s averaging 14 rebounds. Grabbing boards at such a rate is still excellent to see from the 31 year-old big man.
  4. The lineup of Tim Hardaway Jr., Dwight Howard, Paul Millsap, Dennis Schroder, and Thabo Sefolosha per 100 possessions has a 27.6 net rating. The offensive rating of 120 is an elite showing. Although the lineup has seen limited floor time, this is clearly a five man deployment that has shown prodigious results for Coach Bud.
  5. Dennis Schroder is third in the league in drives to basket, ahead of James Harden and Russell Westbrook, albeit only by a few percentage points. Peculiarly, Schroder is only attempting a little over a free throw per game in such instances. For context Jimmy Butler attempts four free throws.
    Atlanta Hawks Stats

    Via USA Today Sports Images

  6. The endowment of the starting point guard responsibilities has given a jump to the touches of Schroder. With 71 touches a game, Dennis has 12 more touches than the next player. Schroder has played well enough in his new role, knowing that there would be an adjustment period for the third year guard from Germany.This significant of a jump in load has shown the ups and downs of Dennis, but hopefully in the years to come as he becomes more comfortable his game will catch up to his role.

 

 

 

 

 

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