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Head Coach: Scott Brooks | All-Time 441-297; OKC & WAS The Washington Wizards are currently sitting at tenth in the Eastern Conference and want to take care of business against an inexperienced Hawks team in order to climb back up the Eastern Conference table. After a four-game losing streak against Eastern Conference rivals, a game against the Atlanta Hawks may provide a brief reprieve for the Washington Wizards before they depart on a trip out West to take on the Houston Rockets. In their last meeting, the Washington Wizards defeated the Hawks soundly and scored a season-high 131 points. John Wall was out in that match with a heel injury and his likely return on this night may prove incredibly dangerous to the young Hawks team.
Head Coach: Lloyd Pierce | All-Time 6-22; ATL The Atlanta Hawks are positioned last in the Eastern Conference and are tied with the Phoenix Suns for the title of worst team in the NBA. While they may not be competing for a playoff spot this season, the Hawks will want to show some resolve as they allowed 131 points in their last meeting against the Wizards and 144 in their last game the Brooklyn Nets. The Hawks last meeting with the Wizards wasn’t so awful for the team offensively as it was defensively. The Hawks had six players scoring in double-figures, led by high-flying forward John Collins who posted an impressive 26 points and 14 rebounds. If the Hawks can lock up on defence, they may be able to put up a decent fight against a Wizards team who embarrassed them last time out. Keep a watch for Trae Young who will surely want to test his mettle against one of the leagues best defensive point guards in John Wall.
The all-time matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and the Washington Wizards is very close. After 299 regular season matches, the Atlanta Hawks lead the all-time series 153-146. The Washington Wizards are out of form as of late and are currently 4-12 on the road. A win would keep the Wizards in tenth place, however just a game behind the Brooklyn Nets. A win for the Atlanta Hawks would provide nothing of note for their record. Currently sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, a win for the Hawks would just bring them level with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls for fourteenth in the East.
What can Trevor Ariza bring the Wizards? Can the Hawks win the battle inside? We are going to compare the Washington Wizards and the Atlanta Hawks in an attempt to see who has the edge in this match-up.
On Friday December 14th a three-team trade between the Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns, and Memphis Grizzlies fell apart. In place of that trade, the Washington Wizards and the Phoenix Suns agreed to swap G-F Trevor Ariza for G Austin Rivers and G-F Kelly Oubre Jr. Coming off of an incredible yet eventually disappointing season with the Houston Rockets, Trevor Ariza commanded a great deal of interest as a free agent. Ariza signed with the Phoenix Suns on a one year, $15 million dollar contract this past summer. Ariza has a career defensive rating of 105 and is a career 35% three-point shooter. Beginning his career as a poor-shooting slasher, Ariza transformed himself into one of the premier 3-and-D players of today’s NBA. While he won’t fix every problem on the Wizards, he’s certainly an upgrade over the two players they lost.
The Atlanta Hawks front-court is athletic, sporting the likes of John Collins, Dewayne Dedmon, and Alex Len. Outside of those three players, the Hawks have no true rebounders on the squad but hustle on every play. The Hawks settle for a style of gang-rebounding, as seven players on their team average four rebounds or more per game. In comparison, the Washington Wizards rank second to last in the NBA in rebounding as their only true rebounding threat in Dwight Howard has been out with injury. If the Hawks can take advantage of the rebounding battle, they will be able to gain some easier points than they usually acquire as they are one of the top teams in the NBA in terms of three-point threats. Easy buckets should make for an easier night in Atlanta.
F Markieff Morris is listed as day-to-day with a strained neck. Morris is averaging 11.7 points, and 5.3 rebounds for the season. G-F Trevor Ariza recently joined the team in exchange for G Austin Rivers and G-F Kelly Oubre Jr. He is expected to play. F Otto Porter suffered a right knee contusion and will be reevaluated via MRI on Monday. C Dwight Howard is still out indefinitely with a back injury. He is expected to be sidelined until the New Year.
F-C Miles Plumlee underwent a non-surgical procedure to reduce pain in his knee and he will be reevaluated in a week. F Omari Spellman (hip) is listed as day-to-day and is not expected to play. F Taurean Prince (ankle) is out and is not expected to return until after Christmas. F Alex Poythress (ankle) is out indefinitely.
In a win against the Los Angeles Lakers, John Wall posted a very impressive 40 point, 14 assist, and 6 rebound performance. Not only was John Wall able to use his impressive speed to get to the rim, but he was able to shoot 4-8 from distance. Against the Atlanta Hawks, John Wall won’t be facing off against any lockdown defender of note. Despite the Hawks lack of a defensive anchor, they are an athletic young team that can switch and recover on the speedier players in the NBA. Look for John Wall to take advantage of the Hawks in the screen and roll, with hopes of taking on Dedmon and Collins off the bounce. If John wall can put together a night that is even half as impressive as his showing against the Lakers, it may be quick work for the Wizards.
Hawks rookie sensation Trae Young came into the league with ambitions of being a top-tier scorer and he’s shown flashes of that ability. Currently averaging 15.5 points and 7.1 assists per game, Trae Young is showing he already has some of the skills necessary to succeed as a primary playmaker in this NBA. It is important to note that Trae Young has deep range, but is not actually shooting at an efficient rate. While Young is averaging 5.6 three-point attempts per game, he is only converting on 24% of those attempts per game. Young is so talented that you can’t sag off of him from three. His shooting percentage does not accurately represent his ability. Regardless, Young will have to show maturity against a team with versatile defenders and work to get open shots if they want to have a chance against the Wizards.
The odds makers have the Washington Wizards favoured over the Atlanta Hawks by 5, with an over/under of 110.
Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
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