In a first-round sweep of the Toronto Raptors, the Wizards were able to make their superior size a major factor. To win this second-round series with the Atlanta Hawks, especially without John Wall, makes pounding the ball in the post more imperative going into Game 3 today at Verizon Center.
Nene, who doesn't have a field goal in two games vs. Atlanta, dominated on the boards by averaging 11 rebounds in the first two road wins in Toronto. Gortat shot 74.3% from the field.
"We got to do a better job of getting him the ball. It's as simple as that," coach Randy Wittman said of Nene. "He's got to also demand to have the ball in the flow of the game. We've talked about that."
Nene almost has as many turnovers (six) as he does rebounds (seven) against Atlanta. The play of Paul Millsap, who can stretch to the three-point line and go off the dribble, has given him difficulty. When Nene starts off slow, he has a hard time getting himself out of the rut.
"He needs to be confident, need to be aggressive in whatever he does. He'll be fine," Beal said. "We just need him to be Ne, go out there and dunk on somebody. I think when he gets the ball in the post he looks to pass too much. He needs to go, be dominant and just score the ball."
Nene has mishandled passes for unforced turnovers. In Game 2, he missed two layups. The Hawks, after losing home-court advantage with a 104-98 loss in Game 1, were intent to play more physical and did just that with Al Horford and DeMarre Carroll joining in the fray. They're undersized but tenacious to loose balls and second-chance points. They had more points in the paint in Game 2, 38-30.
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"They have guys that can move real well. There's a lot of switching going on. That's something we definitely got to take advantage of because we do have an advantage down there with our bigger guys," said point guard Ramon Sessions, who'll likely start Game 3 with Wall out with a fractured left hand and wrist. "Not taking anything away from Millsap or Horford, those guys are great, but size-wise we definitely got to get in the post a little more and feed our big guys."
Gortat had 12 points and 12 rebounds in Game 1 but settled for difficult shots going away from the basket without Wall to feed him in Game 2. He had 10 points and nine rebounds before fouling out. When Gortat gets going early, it opens up the floor, too.
"That's one thing we're going to definitely stress this next game, that's getting (into) the paint, getting to the free throw line and getting the ball inside to Nene and Gortat and go from there," said Otto Porter, who is averaging almost a double-double off the bench with 10.5 points and 8.0 rebounds. "It's going to be physical regardless if you play inside or out. From our vantage point, play inside more."