The last two playoff appearances for the Washington Wizards in 2013 and 2014 were defined by the backcourt tandem of John Wall and Bradley Beal stepping their play up in the postseason. And so far in this year’s playoffs, it’s been much of the same theme for the Wizards, who finished the week with a 2-1 series lead over the Atlanta Hawks behind impressive play from none other than their famed guard duo. Washington opened their first round series against Atlanta on April 16 in impressive fashion in front of a packed Verizon Center. The AFRO recaps the week that was for the Washington Wizards.
Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) drives against Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroeder (17) during the first half of an NBA playoff basketball game Saturday, April 22, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
April 16: Washington Trumps Hawks 114-107
Washington kicked off their postseason run by hosting the franchise’s first playoff series since 1979 when they welcomed Atlanta to the Verizon Center on April 16. Wall scored a playoff career-high 32 points and handed out 14 assists as Washington rode a big third quarter to a 114-107 win. Beal added 22 points and three steals while Markieff Morris had a nice playoff debut with 21 points and seven rebounds. A hectic fourth quarter left the game wide open for any team to win. However, the Wizards simply made more plays down the stretch anchored by Wall who kept the Verizon Center crowd roaring from start to finish with his dazzling passes and chest-thumping showmanship.
April 19: Hawks Falter in 109-101 Loss to Wizards
Washington returned home on April 19 for another date with Atlanta and used a big fourth quarter from both Wall and Beal to clip the Hawks 109-101. Early foul trouble limited forwards Morris and Otto Porter Jr., but Wall (32 points, nine assists) and Beal (31 points, three steals) more than made up for any shortcomings from their teammates. With Washington leading only 97-96 with less than four minutes remaining in the final quarter, Beal and Wall combined to score the last 12 points for the Wizards to put Atlanta in an 0-2 hole. Washington overcame a steady stream of erratic officiating calls and argued with the referees every chance they received. Beal’s three-pointer, with under a minute left in regulation, proved to be the dagger as it put Washington up 106-98 with 38 seconds remaining and closed the book on Atlanta’s quest to even the series on Washington’s floor.
April 22: Wizards Fall in Road Loss to Hawks, 116-98
Down 2-0, the Hawks returned home on April 22 and threw a first quarter haymaker right at the Wizards that they were never able to recover from in an 116-98 loss. Despite 29 points and seven assists from Wall, Atlanta jumped to a 38-20 first quarter lead and never relinquished their sizable lead. Aside from Wall, Washington’s starters combined for just 30 points while shooting a paltry 14-of-45 from the field. Wall scored 21 points in the first half, including the last seven points of the first quarter that helped trim a deficit that ballooned to 38-13 before Wall’s fiery finish. It was never much of a contest after that as Atlanta went on to finish the blowout.
Next: Washington will return to action on April 24 when they tip off against Atlanta, again.