With .38 seconds left and Washington holding onto a 5 pt. lead at 103-98, Bradley Beal shot a 3 from a John Wall assist and that was it. Wall made a breakaway dunk later on but to my mind Atlanta came apart after that 3.
Both teams struggled for consistency throughout leading me to tweet in the 3q how this seemed like a better played regular season game than a playoff game, and more so in the first two halves when both teams suffered through turnover mistakes, easy misses and other simple errors that to me have no place in an NBA playoff game, no matter how early the round.
With both teams not delivering the key to the game was simple, whichever team manages to get better control would have the advantage. And Washington proved to be that team with Brandon Jennings suddenly waking up to score 10 crucial points in the 3q with Wall on the bench.
From the 4q onwards it was Wall, Gortat and Beal taking the cudgels and holding on for a W. Barring a calamity Atlanta could still have made a go for it, but they just do not have the manpower nor just plain old capability to get themselves going.
Atlanta seems like a headless, disparately talented team playing without rhyme nor reason. They are good for a few individual plays here and there but for the most part there isn’t any particular stat they are good at.
While Washington isn’t all that better it at least has leadership in the form of John Wall, who you can see is practically screaming at his teammates to get their acts together several times in the game. Whether or not he is actually saying anything worthwhile may not necessarily be important at this stage. What IS important is that there is someone acting as the leader and that gives them focus and allows the role players to concentrate on what they’re supposed to do.
If this is interpreted as a dig towards Dwight Howard, who finished with only 6 pts in 19 mins., then so be it. He has consistently remained inconsistent, and is pretty much a zero just as he has been in the past. Why we should expect anything from him remains a mystery to me, whereas everyone on the Hawks team is playing up to par.
Barring a miracle, this should be Wizards in 5.