Plenty happened during the Washington Wizards' 104-98 road win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday in Game 1 of their best-of-7 series against the Atlanta Hawks. Here's a look at some of the lineup, rebounding, streaky and historic action that took place while spinning it forward to Game 2 on Tuesday.
Taking a break
During the first half and early in the third quarter, NBA Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer called timeout whenever the Wizards gained significant ground on the Hawks. Three times these stoppages in play not only led to Atlanta regrouping, but a notable counter-surge.
Deeper into the second half, perhaps Budenholzer waited too long before trying to change momentum.
First quarter: Otto Porter and Drew Gooden enter, immediately sparking a Wizards 8-0 run to tie the game at 20-20 with 4:11 remaining in the period. Timeout, Atlanta. Hawks then pull ahead with a 13-2 run in less than three minutes.
Second quarter: Bradley Beal scores four points during a 6-0 spurt as the Wizards trim the Hawks' lead to 41-36 with 6:18 left before halftime. Timeout, Atlanta. Kyle Korver hits a 3-pointer seven seconds after play resumes, starting an 8-4 run. The Hawks lead 63-53 at halftime.
Third quarter: Here they go again. John Wall sinks three jumpers and an 8-0 run cuts the lead to 65-61 with 8:15 left in the period. Timeout. Atlanta. Hawks soar upon returning with seven straight points for a 72-61 lead with 6:37 remaining.
Washington coach Randy Wittman calls a timeout at that point -- and Pierce drained a 3-pointer on the next possession. That started a closing surge in the period as the Wizards outscored the Hawks 20-11 to trail 83-81 entering the fourth.
Two timeouts took place early in the fourth quarter - one official and one called by the Wizards. By the time Budenholzer asks for one with 3:49 remaining in the game, Washington is already ahead for good. Atlanta's next offensive trip comes up empty. Washington's does not. Porter's 3-pointer puts the Wizards up 98-91 with 3:16 left.
The Wizards easily could have wilted in Game 1 on the road against the top seed after falling behind several times by double digits. That didn't happen no matter how times the momentum shifted against them.
Points and boards
The heralded lineup with Paul Pierce and Porter at forward - and flanked by Wall, Beal and Marcin Gortat - played 10 minutes together in Game 1. Unlike the previous series against Toronto, they lost ground against Atlanta. Hardly a disaster, but the 5-man unit finished with a net rating* of minus-6.6 despite robust offensive numbers (126.3). The same group went plus-36 in the four game sweep over The Raptors.
(* Difference in offensive and defensive rating. Each of those ratings shows points generated or allowed per 100 possessions)
Perhaps the biggest concern going forward lies with the rebounding. According to NBA.com, this smallish lineup only grabbed 37.5 percent of any available defensive rebounds, easily the worst for any of Washington's lineup (The standard starting five look with Nene replacing Porter snagged 76.9 percent). Against Toronto, the Pierce-Porter-Wall-Beal-Gortat unit grabbed 82.6 of all defensive rebound chances.
Overall, the Wizards finished with 54-52 rebounding advantage, but the Hawks edged them out on the offensive boards (16-15). Atlanta ranked 27th in rebounding overall and was the NBA's worst offensive rebounding team during the regular season, but didn't look like it when constant crashing led to six official shot attempts - all missed - on one possession inside the final two minutes. Washington finished tied for sixth in rebounding this season.
Atlanta forward Paul Millsap is a matchup nightmare for the Wizards. He can shoot over and drive past bigger defenders (Nene, Drew Gooden) on the perimeter and pound smaller options (Pierce) inside. He nearly had a triple-double in Game 1 (15 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists), but only finished 6 of 17 from the field including 1 of 4 from beyond the 3-point arc. Don't count on Millsap missing so many open looks in the next game, but expect the versatile forward to remain a pest this series.
Meanwhile, Washington finished with a net rating of plus-24 with Porter on the court and a minus-16.6 when the small forward sat. The lithe 6-foot-8 forward grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds and scored 10 points for his double-double. As was the case against Toronto, Porter's took advantage of the defense focusing attention elsewhere with constant movement and strong basketball instincts. That led to open shots that he made and being in position for caroms off the glass which the two-way threat grabbed.
The Hawks lost despite holding a 10-point halftime lead. That's not only a dagger for the Eastern Conference's top seed, but a rare scenario in playoff history. From the Elias Sports Bureau: This is just the second time a No. 1 seed lost a game in the first or second round in which it led by double digits at halftime, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Allen Iverson-led Philadelphia 76ers lost their first game of the 2001 playoffs despite holding a double-digit lead against the Indiana Pacers. The 76ers eventually reached the NBA Finals. (h/t ESPN).