ATLANTA -- The scoring of Bradley Beal and John Wall down the stretch will command most of the post-Game 1 chatter of why and how the Wizards took home-court advantage Sunday 104-98. But there were a lot of other reasons for their success:
- The deal with bringing Ramon Sessions here via trade had everything to do with the Wizards realizing, after being thrashed on multiple occasions by the Hawks, that they needed better pace with the second unit. Sessions only had five points, three rebounds, an assist and a steal in 18 minutes but the offense is much more up-tempo. To compete with the Hawks, Sessions is a must.
- Wall and Beal combined for three of the Wizards' eight turnovers. They'll have to do this constantly to have a shot at winning this series. Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver didn't shoot well (combined 9 of 29) but they still only had one total turnover.
- Even though Al Horford had 17 points and a game-high 17 rebounds to go with seven assists, the Wizards can live with him taking 19 shots, including three three-point attempts. In my pre-series analysis of how the Wizards could win, having Horford do just that was a key. Horford took more shots (19) than anyone on the floor not named Beal. The same goes for DeMarre Carroll. He lit up the Wizards for 21 points in the first half but just three in the second. It's better than having Korver and Teague unleash.
- If Nene isn't working, there's no need to force him on the court. The Wizards' big man had foul trouble and didn't score in 17 minutes, missing all four of his shots including a layup and a tap-in. Using Paul Pierce in his spot (19 points in 31 minutes) or Drew Gooden works just fine (12 points, five rebounds in 14 minutes). Otto Porter plays better, it seems, with both of them (10 points, 11 rebounds). Nene is a luxury when he's on but the Wizards were in a better rhythm without him in Game 1.
- Marcin Gortat made his size a factor against the smaller Hawks with 12 points and 12 rebounds. He also stayed on the floor 38 minutes. That's eight more than he played against them all season, excluding the last regular-season meeting when Atlanta rested all of its starters. Gortat was 2-for-2 in the fourth quarter and made finishing in the paint difficult down the stretch.