Opinion: Why the Wizards will be in Atlanta for a Game 7 on Sunday
I watched Game 5 of the second round playoff series between the Atlanta Hawks and the Washington Wizards from one of Buckhead’s most popular restaurants on Wednesday night. The bar at The Southern Gentleman Gastropub was jam packed with Hawks fans living and dying with every missed and made Atlanta attack to the basket and subsequent Wizards answer.
Being the neutral sports writer that I am, I watched alone from a booth water in hand (I don’t drink) waiting for Paul Pierce and company to set the mood for the rest of the evening: somber.
Pierce hit a game-winning bank shot in Game 3 at the Verizon Center, and I had no doubts with the visiting Wizards down by two points that he wouldn’t find a way to the same again. And the future first ballot Hall of Famer did just that as his three-pointer put the Wiz up a point with 8.3 remaining in the game.
Needless to say, that ended up being enough time for the Hawks to miss and make a game-winning basket courtesy of Al Horford, he of the 23-point, 11-rebound 5-block statline.
With all that said, I expect to see Washington back at Phillips Arena for Game 7 on Sunday afternoon. This would mean they are going to win Game 6 in D.C. tonight. You bet your broken left hand they will.
Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall broke his hand during the first game of this series and had missed the previous two (a Wizard win and loss) but had come back to help secure what would have been a huge Game 6 victory.
Wall made an impact for sure and will make an even bigger one with a day of rest and the home crowd behind him. In 37 minutes Wednesday night, he had six turnovers–some of which he mentioned at the post game press conference–to go with seven assists. Not necessarily a great night from the floor from a point guard perspective–he’s averaging 11.7 assist and only 3.5 turnovers per game this postseason.
Game 5 was the Wizards’ first loss this postseason with Wall in the lineup, and I believe there’s a better game from the Washington frontcourt coming. Nene and Marcin Gortat combined for 23 points on 21 shot attempts while only gathering 14 rebounds and no blocked shots between them. They are much better than that, especially at home.
Starting shooting guard Bradley Beal took 21 shots to score his team-high 23 points. He’ll most certainly be better than that. Beal was an unusual 1-5 from three. Wizards head coach Randy Wittman has stayed out of his own way for the most part during this series. That in itself is more than enough of a reason to think the Wizards are going to win Game 6.
All of that and the Hawks managed to win 82-81–or better said, the Wizards only lost by a point on the road to the No. 1 seed in the East. Either way you put it, I expect to see John Wall with his banged up left (non-shooting) hand and wrist, a better shooting Bradley Beal, two rebounding and post defending Wizard front court players in Nene and Gortat and Paul ‘TheTruth’ Pierce all show up tonight and force a Game 7 on Sunday afternoon.
I already have my spot on press row in Phillips Arena picked out, water in hand.