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NBA Playoffs 2017 Wizards vs. Hawks Game 1: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

NBA Playoffs 2017 Wizards vs. Hawks Game 1: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards host Dwight Howard, Paul Millsap and the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 of their first round series in the 2017 NBA Playoffs.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch…

GAME 1: WASHINGTON WIZARDS vs. ATLANTA HAWKS

Where: Verizon Center
Tip-off: 1 p.m.
TV: CSN (coverage begins at 12 p.m.)
Live stream: CSNmidatlantic.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

Playoffs begin

The 2017 NBA postseason is finally here as the Wizards open things up with their first Game 1 of a playoff series at home since 1979. The Wizards enter these playoffs with expectations as high as they have been in decades for this franchise and the road begins on Sunday.

The Wizards are relatively healthy outside of calf injuries for Ian Mahinmi and rookie Sheldon Mac. Mahinmi is a key cog on their bench. But their starting lineup should be ready to go with John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat on the floor. For the Hawks, they will start Dennis Schroder, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Taurean Prince, Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard.

[RELATED: Son of NBA great will be big focus of Wizards vs. Hawks]

Morris vs. Millsap

A key matchup in this series is definitely going to be at the power forward position, as Morris will be entrusted with locking down Millsap, the Hawks' best player. Millsap can do it all. He's a four-time All-Star and a former All-Defense team selection. At 32, he had another very good season with averages of 19.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He has 81 career playoff games under his belt, while Morris has zero.

The challenge for Morris will be following the mobile Millsap around on offense and trying to eliminate his ability to stretch the floor with outside shots. Millsap has had very different results against the Wizards this season, largely based on how Morris defended him. In the first meeting between the teams on Oct. 27, Millsap had 27 points, seven rebounds and six rebounds in a Hawks' win. In the other two times he played against Washington, he scored a combined 20 points on 6-of-21 shooting. If Morris can keep Millsap in check, it will be hard for Atlanta to keep up with the Wizards offensively.

[RELATED: Wizards' Morris: Don't call me a stretch four]

Any rust?

The Wizards play on Sunday after three days without games. And in their regular season finale on Wednesday, many of their regulars didn't play including Wall, Beal and Morris as head coach Scott Brooks opted to rest them in a meaningless game. Wall also didn't play on Monday against Detroit, so Sunday will be his first game action since April 8. He will have sat a full week by tipoff time against the Hawks.

Add in the fact that the Wizards are playing at 1 p.m., six hours earlier than they are used to, and it will be interesting to see how they come out of the gate. Brooks said he does not "expect any late wakeup calls" or any letdown early in the game. Still, it would be understandable if the Wizards have some rust to knock off.

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Marc Spears sees Rui Hachimura's impact stretching farther than on the court

Marc Spears sees Rui Hachimura's impact stretching farther than on the court

Hopes were high entering the season that Rui Hachimura could become a foundational piece for the Washington Wizards, and for the most part, he has lived up to all the hype. 

His impact on the court is undeniable for a struggling Wizards team. He's the third-leading scorer on the roster behind Bradley Beal and Thomas Bryant at 14.4 points per game just nine games into his career, and he ranks top five among NBA rookies in points, field goal shooting and rebounds. 

Hachimura is not your average rookie, though. When the Wizards drafted him ninth overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, they were certainly adding a player with high upside and translatable skills, but his popularity in his home country of Japan has arguably made a bigger imprint on his time as a professional. 

Marc Spears, senior NBA writer at The Undefeated, joined Chris Miller and Gary Carter on the Wizards Talk Podcast to discuss the rookie's sizeable impact both on and off the court. 

"I love his game, I love his aggressiveness offensively," Spears said. "I think he's a good rebounder but could be a great rebounder, and the one thing I really like is the fact that, unlike a lot of the Japanese baseball players who get annoyed by it, he's embraced the media, he's embraced the Japanese media and wants to be a voice out there.

"And I think it's making him some money off the court because he's been so open-minded to it."

Hachimura has been on Spears' radar. Spears watched him live three times while the rookie was playing at Gonzaga last season and wrote a story about how Hachimura is trying to help multi-racial kids like himself. 

At one of the games where Gonzaga played Santa Clara in late January, Spears noticed a Japanese basketball league called San Jose Zebra in attendance.

"There were kids in that program who came to that game and were basically in awe of seeing somebody that was actually like them," Spears said. 

The Wizards' rebuild hinges on players like Hachimura developing into foundational pieces, but it's clear there's a bigger picture regarding the rookie's success. 

The better he gets, the more his star will grow both in the United States and in Japan. 

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Expectations weren't high, but at 2-7 are the Wizards underachieving?

Expectations weren't high, but at 2-7 are the Wizards underachieving?

Should the Wizards be better than this?

Certainly, what has transpired so far this season has not been all that surprising. They let more talent leave than they brought in over the summer, but by-design to get younger players with more long-term upside and more financial flexibility. With the roster they put together, few out there had any delusions of them contending for a top seed in the Eastern Conference.

But after nine games they sit 2-7, as certifiably one of the worst teams in basketball. No teams have fewer wins than the Wizards and only three have more losses. Those three are the Pelicans (Zion Williamson got hurt), the Warriors (everyone got hurt) and the Knicks. Hey, at least they're not the Knicks.

A 2-7 record, though, is a 2-7 record and some of the numbers aren't pretty. The Wizards are allowing 120 points per game, fourth-most in the NBA. Their 114.6 defensive rating is 29th out of 30 teams.

To be fair, we knew they were going to be dreadful defensively. Though they made some astute moves in the offseason, they basically brought in all offensive-minded players. 

Yes, much of what has happened for the Wizards this season has been predictable. But when you bring a magnifying glass over the big picture things have been, well, just okay so far.

When it comes to individuals, it's a mixed bag. Rui Hachimura has been a nice surprise because of how quickly he has translated to the NBA as a rookie. Thomas Bryant looks at least marginally improved. His trajectory appears to be continuing upward.

Moe Wagner has been solid, at least showing enough to prove he isn't the bust he resembled last year in L.A.. Davis Bertans has been excellent, giving general manager Tommy Sheppard an early feather in his cap by possibly beating the vaunted Spurs in a trade.

Isaiah Thomas has been mostly good so far. He may not be the All-NBA star from his Boston days, but the Wizards are at least getting more than Denver got out of him last year. 

But there have been some relative disappointments. Ish Smith and C.J. Miles haven't gotten going yet, though their long veteran track records should present some hope.

Troy Brown Jr. has not shown anything to suggest a second-year leap, but he missed all of the preseason with a calf injury and may need some time to catch up. Jordan McRae hasn't been great either, but should also be graded on a curve because of his injury.

We haven't seen anything conclusive yet from Admiral Schofield or Justin Robinson. Isaac Bonga was okay when he started the first seven games of the season, but showed nothing to write home about.

There have been some positives and some negatives, which is to be expected. Their latest loss was understandable, as they fell in Boston to the NBA-best 9-1 Celtics on Wednesday night. But their loss the game before, by double-digits at home to the Cavaliers, was a head-scratcher.

And still, 2-7 is 2-7. Right now, the Wizards look safely headed towards the lottery, hoping the ping-pong balls bring them a future star in James Wiseman or Cole Anthony.

Really, if that happens and they fall well short of the playoffs, it's okay. They are going to need more building blocks, anyways.

The Wizards are a franchise in transition, having just restructured their front office. The early part of this season is essentially baseline testing. It's not about how they look now, it's what they turn into by the end of the season and the foundation they lay for the future.

This year will be viewed as a success if Hachimura and Bryant continue to ascend, if Brown Jr. turns a corner and if some combination of Wagner, Schofield and Bonga show promise. Maybe Bertans, Thomas and Miles are flipped at the trade deadline for future assets.

It's still very early. We are just getting a good read on what the Wizards are at the moment.

As long as they make progress and trend up from here, things will be fine. If they don't, then there might be a different conversation.

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