The Washington starting-five of Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat can hang with anybody. Soon after they received their first lead of the game, which eventually led them to victory.
Despite an unfavorable first-game result, Millsap remained upbeat about Atlanta’s chances this series.
ESPN cited a source close to the player as saying he expected to play on Sunday night, but other reports indicated that could be a game-time decision.
The 26-year-old recorded 32 points, 14 assists, 4 rebounds and 1 block (while shooting 50 percent from the field, 50 percent from three-point range and 100 percent from the free-throw line) in the Washington Wizards’ Game 1 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. At one point during his undressing of the Hawks to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, Wall pointed toward the floor while the crowd bellowed.
Asked to consider how Wall “kind of” took over the third quarter, Washington coach Scott Brooks asked a question back.
According to game score, a metric created by John Hollinger to give a rough measure of a player’s productivity for a single game, this was the second-highest highest game score in franchise history among players getting a double-double in the postseason – only Gilbert Arenas’s 2006 performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers (36 points and 11 assists producing a 28.9 game score) ranked higher.
Frustrating Millsap is part of the plan for Washington. Schroder had just finished a nice drive against Markieff Morris, but Wall made everyone pay for not sprinting back on defense. Bradley Beal is a great player.
Scoring droughts and minor injuries are going to happen in that environment. “I’m knocking down shots, and I was just being aggressive”, he said.
At an Atlanta Hawks practice Monday at Georgetown University’s Thompson Center, Mike Budenholzer seemed the farthest thing from a coach with his hand hovering over the panic button. “Usually the aggressor is rewarded”. There were a near-constant barrage of tipped passes, bad fouls and turnovers that made the first half more befitting of a mid-January matinee rather than a playoff opener.
Dwight Howard, playing in his first playoff game for his hometown Hawks, finished with a disappointing seven points and 14 rebounds.
“Kind of?” Brooks said.
Draymond Green had 19 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, five blocked shots and three steals to help last season’s second-place team take the first step in what it is counting on to be a championship run. Despite Jennings’ Players’ Tribune essay making the case for Wall as MVP, Washington’s four-time All-Star broke it down as Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden, with Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Isaiah Thomas and himself in the next tier. “Without him, man, we wouldn’t get half the shots, half of the possessions we get, we credit him”.
Taurean Prince had 14 points in his playoff debut for the Hawks. No jitters or silly mistakes, just intense playoff basketball. “He does a lot of things on both ends of the court”.
Before Game 1, all of the Hawks said that the key to the series was transition defense, and it still is. Washington’s bench had a combined 15 points and 11 of them came from second-year wing Kelly Oubre.
“I don’t know, we’ll see”, Collison said of his future. That’s good for him, it’s good for the Hawks, and it’s good for all of us National Basketball Association fans who don’t have to deal with Howard’s annoying public persona anymore now that he’s settled into normalcy.
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