Marcin Gortat dominated first quarters in the opening playoff round against the Toronto Raptors. The Wizards' starting center has been less effective at the start against the Atlanta Hawks.
No way Gortat was going to replicate the numbers produced in the four-game sweep against the Raptors: 14 of 15 from the field with averages of 7.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 blocks. Again, those are first quarter only numbers. Insanely good.
Here's what he's done in the opening period during Games 1-4 versus the Hawks: 4 of 8 from the field, 2.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 0.5 blocks. Modest at best.
Strong starts from Gortat often leads to productive activity throughout the game. Those early funks also tend to linger. Gortat missed both of his first quarter field goal attempts in Game 4 and finished 1 of 7 for three points, his lowest scoring total since Jan. 31. The defensive end wasn't a picnic either with Al Horford popping out for mid-range jumpers.
"We have to stay aggressive," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "(Marcin) is most effective when he's rolling to the basket, running the floor, playing with that confidence. I thought he got his head down a little bit early when he missed some early shots around the rim and he can't do that."
Not having Wall might hurt Gortat more than any other starter. The pair developed a tremendous pick-and-roll chemistry that led to layups at the rim for Gortat. Lately he's been taking jumpers and hooks further away from the basket.
Shot charts: Gortat v Raps on left. Gortat vs Hawks (sans Wall) on right. pic.twitter.com/S8a5fgfepq
— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) May 13, 2015
Paul Pierce made a point after Game 3 of stating that the team needed to feed Gortat more. Good plan. But whether those early shots fall or not, Wittman wants his big man to stay focused throughout.
"It's a long game. You can go 1 for 7 and still maybe make your last four or five shots and turn it into a pretty good night," Wittman stated. "But if you don't give yourself that opportunity, it becomes a long night.
"That's the main thing. I don't care what transpires at the start of the game...We've been down 10, 15 (points) and you stay with it. If you put your head down 15, you're going to get beat by 30. You don't give yourself a chance. Same as an individual."