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Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win over Hawks in Atlanta

Takeaways from Wizards' blowout win over Hawks in Atlanta

The last building block may be in place for the Wizards, who have won 14 in a row at home but have been less-than-adequate on the road for much of this season. After winning at New York and Charlotte earlier in the week, their end-to-end domination of the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night produced one of their most lopsided wins of the season, 112-86.

All five starters were in double figures: John Wall (19 points, nine rebounds, six assists), Bradley Beal (15 points), Otto Porter (21 points, 11 rebounds), Markieff Morris (15 points, nine rebounds) and Marcin Gortat (15 points, 12 rebounds, three steals).

The only offense the Hawks (27-19) had early came from the perimeter. Kent Bazemore (15 points) and Tim Hardaway (12 points). But Dennis Schroder (nine points), Thabo Sefolosha (two points) and All-Star Paul Millsap (four points) were non-factors.

The Wizards are 7-14 away from Verizon Center. They began the calendar year with two losses at the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks that they easily could’ve won, but since then have won 4 of 6 road games.

[RELATED: Is John Wall already better than Gilbert Arenas was with Wizards?]

--For the third time in as many meetings, Morris dominated his matchup with Millsap who was 1-for-6 in the first half and couldn’t get on track. Morris’ length bothers him on the three-point shot and he’s strong enough to prevent Millsap from getting to his preferred spots in the low post. Millsap only took one shot in the second half and missed.

--With Porter’s help on the boards, the Wizards were able to dominate the rebounding category in the way Atlanta dominated them in that area. Porter had seven rebounds in the first quarter alone and other than a few offensive boards Dwight Howard (12 points, 13 rebounds) wasn’t much of a factor. When he tried to post up Gortat in the first quarter, Howard was forced to take a jump hook out of his comfort zone that was short. They never were able to get much out of that matchup. When Howard tried to go at Gortat, he was called for travelling twice and that further disrupted him. Most of his numbers came with the game already out of reach.

--Wall fall fell hard in transition when Millsap pushed him in the lower back on a drive. His right leg got stuck under him on the landing but Wall, who had surgeries to both knees May 5, got up slowly. The last time the Wizards were here, Bazemore was assessed a flagrant foul on Wall in transition. This is where Wall broke his left wrist in the 2015 playoff series.

-- The bench did its job again, even though their numbers were modest. When the first quarter ended, the Wizards led 37-25. When Tomas Satoransky (nine points), Trey Burke (nine points, three assists) and Kelly Oubre (four points, three steals) began the second quarter, they all made plays to help extend it to 67-45 at halftime. Satoransky was patient with his dribble, got his 6-7 frame into the paint and made a floater. Oubre had a block on Hardaway, Burke nailed a 21-foot jumper and Satoransky was assisted on a dunk by Oubre.

--The Wizards have scored 100 or more points in 13 consecutive games which was achieved around the eight-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Porter was 5 of 7 on threes, one short of tying his career-high of six which he has achieved twice this season. 

[RELATED: Wizards lay out plan for Mahinmi, aren't looking to add a big man]

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76ers' Ben Simmons diagnosed with partial dislocation of the left kneecap

76ers' Ben Simmons diagnosed with partial dislocation of the left kneecap

After exiting the 76ers-Wizards matchup early Wednesday night, Ben Simmons was diagnosed with subluxation of the left patella on Thursday.

Simmons left the game during the third quarter and did not return. The injury occurred after he grabbed an offensive rebound and dribbled to the corner to pass to Al Horford in the post. Following the play, he began flexing his left leg and left for the locker room. Simmons was seen walking gingerly in street clothes minutes later.  

Before leaving the game, Simmons recorded eight points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals in 23 minutes.

Simmons’ diagnosis of a partially dislocated kneecap leaves him out indefinitely as he and the team consider treatment options. He has already been ruled out of Philadelphia’s game against the Orlando Magic on Friday. However, his MRI showed no ligament damage in the knee, which leaves him optimistic to return later in the playoffs.

His knee injury is not the only injury Simmons has had to overcome this season. He also missed the final eight games before the NBA’s hiatus with a nerve impingement in his lower back, but fully recovered before the restart began.

Playing without an All-Star player will be a challenge for Philadelphia, but the team has proven successful thus far in Orlando. The Sixers have gone 2-1 in the bubble and currently trail the Indiana Pacers by one game for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and are two games behind the Miami Heat for fourth. 

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Kevin Durant gives his NBA Finals predictions

Kevin Durant gives his NBA Finals predictions

While a number of teams are fighting to be the favorite heading into the NBA Playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers picked up a key endorsement from Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant.

When asked who he thought will win it all this year, Durant chose the Clippers defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals and upsetting the No. 1 seed Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. 

"They're just so deep," Durant said of the Clippers on “Play For Keeps” podcast. "They haven't had their whole team together at once for a long period of time yet, and that talent is just undeniable. When you have [Paul George] and Kawhi [Leonard] at the wings, that's what you need to win is wings. You got those two at the wings, arguably top three, top four at the wing position on one team."

So far in Orlando, the Clippers have gone 1-2 after defeating the New Orleans Pelicans and falling to the Lakers and Phoenix Suns. As of now, they hold the two-seed in the Western Conference playoff picture and would face the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. However, they are currently just a half a game ahead of the Denver Nuggets with five seeding games remaining.

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The Lakers clinched the one-seed last week and are up six games in the standings over their cross-town rivals.

ESPN’s playoff odds gave the Clippers a 10% chance of winning it all. They ranked third behind the Bucks with a 49.7% chance and the Lakers at 18.7%. 

Durant chose Los Angeles over his own team, the Brooklyn Nets, who are also in a good position to make the playoffs as the current seven-seed in the East Conference. However, the Nets are playing in Orlando without eight players including a number of starters like Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie and Durant, who missed the entire regular season after tearing his Achilles during the 2019 NBA Finals.

If his team retains the seven-seed heading into the playoffs, they would likely face the Toronto Raptors, who Durant projected would fall to Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Finals.

But regardless of seeding, Durant acknowledged it’s still anyone’s game.

“I hate doing that s---,” he said about predicting a winner. “You never know what could happen – you seen that with us last year.”

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