Tag Archives: Marcin Gortat

Hawks (1) vs Wizards (5) A Battle of Emerging Stars

This may be the series with the least buzz around it, but may very well be the most important. Both feature teams with emerging star point guards, and both teams are very evenly matched. This will be a series of skill vs coaching.

The Hawks had a slight struggle getting out of the first round due to the odd resilience the Nets showed in the first round. Initially the series looked like a sweep until Atlanta’s offense began sputtering in games three and four. What I took away from that performance is that the Hawks have trouble executing in high intensity games on the road. The doubts they’ve faced all season of not having “that guy” will arise again throughout the series. However, Atlanta does have the ability to score through their amazing offense, and can cause many problems by using Korver to remove an extra help defender. Watch for Atlanta to move the ball swiftly and attempt to create easy buckets to create a rhythm for themselves.

The Wizards showed pure dominance over a decent Toronto team. John Wall has been dazzling through this playoff run and will continue to display it through this round. Paul Pierce has also returned to his vintage ways by hitting big shots when the team needs them. The Wizards have stepped up their defensive play, and only allowed Toronto to score more than 100 points just once in the series. It seems as though they’ve peaked at the right time. However, their issue will be on offense. Depending on John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Paul Pierce won’t be enough. Their bigs, Nene and Gortat, will need to establish themselves going forward.

Starters:

  1. J. Wall vs J. Teague
  2. B. Beal vs K. Korver
  3. P. Pierce vs D. Carroll
  4. Nene vs P. Millsap
  5. M. Gortat vs A. Horford

Keys:

The biggest factor is who will win the point guard battle. If John Wall is able to have another great series, then we can chalk this up as a win for the Wizards. However, if Jeff Teague is able to slow him down and play as an emerging star, then this will be a win for the Hawks.

The Wizards need Bradley Beal to play huge in this series. John Wall helped against Toronto, but this matchup is for him to win. He’s struggled in the playoffs, so this is the perfect time for him to get out of that slump. I see him needing to score 20+ per game to win.

Defense is the last big factor. Both teams play good team defense, but for the Wizards, Gortat and Nene will need to find a way to keep up with Paul Millsap. Being a stretch 4, he has the ability to knock down shots on the perimeter. One of them has to neutralize him.

Prediction: The Wizards beat the Hawks 4-2.

The Wizards have much more firepower than the Hawks and a better point guard. As long as John Wall stays aggressive, and the Wizards continue playing at their peak; I don’t see the Hawks really beating them.

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Raptors (4) vs. Wizards (5) Preview: Opposite Strengths

Toronto Raptors (49-33) vs. Washington Wizards (46-36)

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After starting out hot both the Raptors and Wizards flamed out early due to injuries and in the Wizards case, trades. The Wizards dealt with injuries in regards to shooting guard Bradley Beal and the Raptors dealt with injuries revolving around starting guards Kyle Lowry & DeMar DeRozan. After the Christmas break the Wizards dropped as a team while the Raptors were inconsistent in their approach as well.

Toronto was a team that could win on the road as well as at home. They have up-tempo style of play and will usually push the ball following a rebound. Point guard Kyle Lowry is their best playmaker while shooting guard DeMar DeRozan is their best scorer in general. Off the bench the Raptors are led by 6th man Lou Williams (3rd leading scorer) and have guys like Greivis Vasquez, James Johnson and Patrick Patterson who can make plays as well.

The Wizards weren’t that good of a team away from home and often struggled in games that required a lot of scoring. During the season Washington made a midseason deal with the Kings trading away backup point guard Andre Miller for another backup in Ramon Sessions. Like the Raptors, Washington plays an up-tempo style but they aren’t nearly as deep and can’t score in a half court set.

Starters:

PG: K.Lowry vs. J.Wall

SG: D.DeRozan vs. B.Beal

SF: T.Ross vs. P.Pierce

PF: A.Johnson vs. H.NeNe

C: J.Valancinas vs. M.Gortat

These two teams met in the regular season three times with the Raptors winning each game.. (103-84, 120-116 OT & 95-93) The first and last time they met the games were in Toronto with Bradley Beal missing each game. The one time Beal did play against the Raptors they lost at home in OT.

Throughout the season Toronto was a top 10 offensively while Washington was a top 10 team defensively. In the postseason, with the game being slowed down the Wizards have the advantage in that aspect. And despite not having home court advantage the Wizards have players on the roster who know how to win on the road (Pierce game 7 of last year Nets vs. Raptors.) and have ample playoff experience.

Keys:

Wizards:

John Wall is the best player in this series & he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder. If he can consistently get to the paint and create opportunities for his teammates they should be alright offensively. When Wall and Beal are sitting the bench needs to step up their play.

Raptors:

Toronto has to lock in on defense if they want to beat the Wizards. Scoring and not being able to defend won’t warrant any type of advantage. If Lou Williams can continue his dominant play off the bench and keep the Raptors afloat offensively the Wizards will be in trouble.

Prediction Wizards beat the Raptors 4-2. Wall and his team were in this same position last year when they played the Bulls without home court advantage. The Wizards played liked a team worthy of being an Eastern Conference finalist at the beginning of the season and I believe they’ll get back to that form in this series.