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Wizards at Hawks preview: TV and radio info, things to watch

Wizards at Hawks preview: TV and radio info, things to watch


Where: Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga.
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m.
TV: CSN (coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.)
Live stream: CSNmidatlantic.com
Radio: 1500 AM

The Wizards begin their 2016-17 campaign on Thursday night in Atlanta with a matchup against the Hawks. Here are three things to watch…

John Wall's minutes

The All-Star point guard has no problem moving around and playing at full-speed, despite the fact he had surgery on both knees back in May and was limited early on in training camp. But that doesn't necessarily mean he's ready to go a full 48 on Thursday night. Wall and head coach Scott Brooks have indicated that 32 minutes is a solid goal for Wall in the opener. That's not far off from the 36.2 minutes Wall averaged last season, good for fifth in the NBA.

More important than Wall's nightly total could be how long he can play at a given time. Wall said this week the next step for him is to go full bore for eight to 10 minutes and not have it affect his energy particularly on the defensive end of the floor. 

[RELATED: Southeast Division preview: A wide open field]

Changes for Atlanta

The Hawks have been a perennial playoff team in the Eastern Conference with an impressive nine straight postseason appearances. This year, though, they will look much different with Al Horford now playing in Boston and Jeff Teague having moved on to Indiana. That's two All-Stars gone from a team that won 48 games last year and 60 the season before.

The two players replacing them in the Hawks' lineup aren't half-bad themselves. In comes former first round pick Dennis Schroder and eight-time All-Star Dwight Howard. They could again lead the Hawks to the playoffs, but it may take time for the team to gel after making significant changes to their personnel. 

How will Brooks use his bench?

As Insider J. Michael detailed on Wednesday, Brooks has a lot of options on his bench, but it may take some time to sort out his rotation. At backup point guard, he has Trey Burke and Tomas Satoransky. At shooting guard, Marcus Thornton will be a fixture. Kelly Oubre will back up Otto Porter at small forward and certainly hopes for more minutes than he got as a rookie. And behind Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat down low will be Andrew Nicholson and Jason Smith. Further down the bench, they have three undrafted rookies in Danuel House, Sheldon McClellan and Daniel Ochefu. 

Can Satoransky push Burke for more minutes behind Wall? Can Oubre earn Brooks' trust and take minutes away from Porter? Will any of the rookies earn meaningful minutes early in the season? Thursday night will provide the first answers to those questions. It will also be interesting to see how Brooks decides to mix-and-match his lineups, particularly at the guard position with Satoransky presenting a wild card with his size.

[RELATED: What to expect from Wizards' bench]

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Justin Timberlake shows he has game at Wizards practice court

USA Today Sports Images

Justin Timberlake shows he has game at Wizards practice court

Apparently Justin Timberlake is also good at sports. The pop star showed he has a pretty decent jumpshot while playing on the Wizards' practice court on Sunday ahead of his concert at Capital One Arena.


Timberlake knocked down a halfcourt shot and then two three-pointers in a row. It was all shared on video through his Instagram account and then tweeted by the Wizards.


Wizards owner Ted Leonsis was among the many to attend Timberlake's concert and he put out a series of pictures and videos on social media:


Timberlake is also, of course, an NBA owner himself. He holds a minority stake in the Memphis Grizzlies. No wonder he's good at basketball. He can use their practice court any time he wants.

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It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

It's hard to tell after three games how the Wizards and Pacers would match up in the playoffs

The Wizards crossed off an important goal on Saturday night by beating the Indiana Pacers and therefore securing the season series. If the teams tie with the same regular season record, the Wizards will get the higher playoff seed. As of today, that would mean home court advantage in the first round.

Though the Wizards have beaten the Pacers in two of their three matchups this season, we only know so much about how they would match up in the playoffs. The first game between them didn't feature Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo and John Wall didn't play in any of the three games. The Pacers were without both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on Saturday night.

Given the Pacers underwent so much change over the summer, there is no real data to go off of from before this season. They are a completely different team with Oladipo leading the way and Paul George now in Oklahoma City.


There are reasons to believe, however, that the Wizards would fare well against the Pacers over the course of a seven-game series. For one, they figured out how to slow Oladipo and his teammate Bojan Bogdanovic on Saturday night. Both had killed the Wizards in previous matchups.

Oladipo was held to 18 points, over five points below his season average of 23.5. He had four turnovers, shot 7-for-16 (43.7%) and finished a -18 in a game the Pacers lost by seven.

The Wizards had some success with Tomas Satoransky guarding Oladipo. Satoransky is 6-foot-7 with long arms. He was able to recover on several occasions to alter Oladipo's shots.

Satoransky and Bradley Beal also did a good job keeping pace with Oladipo on the fastbreak. The Pacers had only four fastbreak points in the game. Oladipo is especially dangerous in the open court.

“We just made sure that we were aggressive with him and made sure he saw a lot of bodies in the paint," Beal said. "The last game, he got a lot of easy ones in transition. We just made sure that we got back on the shot, loaded to the ball and forced the other guys to attack.”

For Bogdanovic, it was about limiting open shots from the perimeter. Bogdanovic had 11 points, three below his season average and had four turnovers. Beal and Otto Porter stripped Bogdanovic for steals and Marcin Gortat took a charge on one play in the third quarter.


But it was all about taking away the outside shot. Bogdanovic only hit one shot in the first half and it was a three. The only reason he got it off is because Kelly Oubre, Jr. lost his balance backing up. That gave Bogdanovic the window he needed. Otherwise, Oubre helped frustrate the former Wizards small forward. So did Gortat and Ian Mahinmi, who did a good job covering their teammates off screens.

The Pacers are an average offensive team, ranking 16th in points per game and 14th in offensive rating. They are better defensively, ranking ninth-best in opponents points per game and 12th in defensive efficiency.

If the Wizards can limit Oladipo and Bogdanovic, the Pacers' two leading scorers, they should have a good shot at beating the Pacers in the playoffs. Beyond them, the Pacers are thin in the scoring department. Turner only averages 13.6 points and no one else beyond him can consistently make an opposing defense pay for mistakes. Conversely, several Wizards players have given the Pacers major trouble through three games this season.

Gortat, who had 18 points and eight rebounds on Saturday, has averaged 13 points and eight rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting against Indiana. Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had 16 points in 18 minutes, has averaged 15.5 points and is shooting 50 percent from the field.


In addition to those guys, Markieff Morris, Porter, Mike Scott, Mahinmi and Satoransky are all shooting over 50 percent against the Pacers. Satoransky is shooting 71.4 percent through three games.

The Wizards have the pieces to counter what the Pacers do best. Indiana is seventh in three-point percentage, but the Wizards are the best team in basketball in opponents three-point percentage. The Pacers are built around an All-Star guard, but the Wizards have two All-Star guards. The Pacers have a collection of talented wing players, but so do the Wizards.

"Hypothetically, I do like Indiana," Beal said. "I like how we match up with Indiana and I feel like there is a lot of stuff that we can take advantage of. In a lot of categories, I think we can win them."

Add it all up and the Wizards have every reason to feel confident if they see the Pacers in the posteason. Keep that in mind because they very well could meet up in the spring.

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