Wizards defense helps defeat Hawks for 3-2 series lead

It was a block party in the fourth quarter for the Washington Wizards. A combination of Markieff Morris, Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat came up with crucial blocks in the final quarter that deflated the efforts of Atlanta going ahead. John Wall would deliver a 21-foot jumper with under a minute left in regulation. This would put the Wizards up 103-99.

The concern for Atlanta was the back court containing the combination of Bradley Beal and Wall. However, in Wednesday’s game five it seemed the other way around when Dennis Schroder scored 29 points. Schroder would pour in a career high five-threes alongside side 11 assists as he led the Hawks. Paul Millsap added 21 points and 11 rebounds behind Schroder’s lead.

The Hawks were down as much as 11 points but would cut the lead down to two points prior to Wall’s jumper under a minute left in the game. It was the Wizards defense that claimed the game. As a team they finished with 10 blocks and eight steals while only committing six turnovers all game. The Hawks were held to 40-percent shooting form the field (29-percent from three).

While it wasn’t his best offensive game of the series Marcin Gortat scored only five points but anchored the defense with 10 rebounds and three blocks. Bradley Beal would also add three blocks and three steals for himself.  He finished with a team high 27 points on 11-of-22 shooting from the field.

It’s a positive sign that the Wizards were able to rely on the defense to win game five. Prior to game five the Hawks were averaging 108 points a game in the series. In game five the Hawks were only able to score 99 points. In a slow grind and grit game of the playoffs this can be the prime reason the Wizards will have the advantage to close out the series on Friday night. The Hawks will seek to have some of the bench support they received from Kent Bazemore and Jose Calderon in game four.

If the Wizards can extend their defend to Atlanta in similar fashion that can be the deciding factor to closing out the series on Friday night. Beyond Millsap and Schroder the Hawks have struggled to score. Dwight Howard is averaging eight points in the series which is a career-low. Offensively, he is only the end of a alley-oop or dish inside rather than the prime Howard and focus in the paint. This has allowed the Wizards to focus on Atlanta’s shooters and contain Millsap or Schroder.

Game six is on Friday night in Atlanta. Tip-off is at 8:00 PM EST on ESPN.

Chevall Kanhai
Baseline Times Staff Writer