Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks (-6.5, 197.5 o/u)
It’s safe to assume nobody saw the Washington Wizards (51-36, 20-24 away) coming. So far, the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference is undefeated in the playoffs, sweeping Toronto in the first round and now stealing Game 1 against the Atlanta Hawks (64-25, 38-7 home). Tonight, Atlanta will look to even the series when they host Washington again in Game 2 (8:00 PM Eastern).
“Last year we were just happy to be in the playoffs, just happy we moved on. We didn’t have many goals after the first round,” said Bradley Beal, who scored 28 points but also injured his ankle in Game 1. “This year, we expect more from ourselves. We’re really focused on what we need to continue to do to move forward.”
Despite the fact the Hawks are a No. 1 seed, they’re not playing like it. Their star’s stat-lines from Game 1 don’t look terrible at first glance: DeMarre Carroll scored 24 points; Al Horford put in 17 points with 17 rebounds and seven assists; and Paul Millsap scored 15 points with 12 rebounds and eight assists. But, as team, Atlanta hit just under 38-percent from the field.
“Maybe we have to turn the heat up a little bit more, get a little more physical, get more aggressive on John Wall and Bradley Beal,” said Carroll. “I think we kind of sat back and let them dictate their offense.”
Wall, who had 18 points and 13 assists in the opener, expects as much heading into Game 2.
“We know that they’re going to come out aggressive and give us a punch right away,” Wall said.
Considering the Wizards are 19-24-1 o/u on the road, while the Hawks are 22-23 o/u at home, the smart play here is the under (197.5).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (originally posted to Flickr as John Wall) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)