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Takeaways from Wizards' Game 5 win over Atlanta Hawks to take 3-2 series lead

Takeaways from Wizards' Game 5 win over Atlanta Hawks to take 3-2 series lead

The road team has yet to win a game in the series, and Wednesday held to form as the Wizards pulled out a 103-99 victory to take a 3-2 lead over the Atlanta Hawks in front of a sellout of 20,356 at Verizon Center.

Bradley Beal (27 points) and John Wall (20 points, 14 assists, six rebounds) led the way in a game that stayed close throughout between the No. 4 and 5 seeds.

Game 6 is Friday at Phillips Arena and if a Game 7 is necessary it’ll be Sunday at Verizon.

The Wizards were able to limit Atlanta’s effectiveness in the paint. After scoring 60 points there in a Game 4 win, the Hawks were held to 36.

Better support came from the role players for Washington, too, as Otto Porter (17 points) and Bojan Bogdanovic (14 points) made clutch shots.

The Wizards appeared headed to a comfortable finish up 98-91, but the Hawks made another run before Beal knocked down a jumper out of timeout and Wall hit one from the foul line to make it a two-possession game with 47.5 seconds left.

MORE WIZARDS: THE BEST PHOTOS FROM GAME 5, INCLUDING ONE OF JOHN'S JAM

Dennis Schroder (29 points, 11 assists) and Paul Millsap (21 points, 11 rebounds) had double-doubles for Atlanta which didn’t get as big of a showing from Dwight Howard (five points, 10 rebounds) because of foul trouble. Tim Hardaway (15 points) and Taurean Prince (10 points, six rebounds) contributed but they didn’t get much from the other players on the roster.

Kent Bazemore and Jose Calderon, who combined for 26 points and 12 assists in Game 4, had just a total of eight points and three assists.

[RELATED: Joe Biden sits courtside at Wizards-Hawks playoff game]

--A third scorer emerged in Porter, who had an outburst to begin the third quarter to spark a 10-2 run. Porter consecutive two threes and a pair of foul shots as the lead grew to 69-58 but it quickly evaporated as Hardaway knocked down long-range shots. Porter only needed four shots to get his 17 points, getting to the foul line 10 times.

--The Wizards called a few postups for Gortat that were not successful as they cut the deficit to 86-83. When they went to Millsap at the five with10:20 left in the game, Gortat had his way again with the forward. He didn’t score much himself but didn’t need to do so. He set screens that allowed the guards to get into the paint without rim protection to thwart their attack. Gortat finally got his first foul shots of the series on a drive to the rim with 6:09, making both for a 94-89 lead. It also represented his first points of the game.

--On Millsap’s first post up on Morris, the Wizards sent Wall on a double-team to get the seal and a foul at 8:24 of first quarter. It’s a strategy that they hadn’t used during the series and Millsap ended up on the bench with three first-half fouls with 1:44 left in the half. Porter helped Smith by doubling Millsap but Gortat blew the help on Prince who had an uncontested dunk. Porter also came from the far weakside of the floor to double and the Wizards had success.

--Down 34-27, the Wizards got back in it with Howard and Millsap on the floor. During a 7-0 run, Morris played center and they got away with the undersized Porter at the four spot. By the time Gortat returned, the Wizards were up 38-36 and went into the half ahead 50-49.

--Howard was the  most aggressive that he has been all series as he ran out on shooters and came up on the ballhandler on pick-and-rolls. Howard went to the bench with four fouls with 2:34 left in the third on Beal’s drive to the basket so it came at a price.

--Bogdanovic had his best start to a game with eight first-half points on five shots. He made both of his three-pointers as well as he was pivotal in the second-quarter run. He appeared to draw a third foul on Howard but it was overturned on review when it was determined the shot clock had expired first on a drive.

--Morris still had foul trouble. He picked up his third at 5:18 of the second quarter as he made 4 of 9 shots. His third didn’t come on Millsap, however, as he helped on Howard and struck him on a dunk attempt.  Morris had a rejection of Hardaway at the rim with 3:59 left that came after Gortat swatted Schroder. Morris picked up his fifth foul – and a technical at 3:20 – when he dove to the floor for a loose ball. He dove for it along with Millsap who fell over the top of him and appeared to have a strong case to be upset.

--Up 50-45, the Hawks ended the half on a 4-0 run. Bogdanovic switched back to Prince, made him change direction with his dribble and throw a lob to Howard for a dunk. Gortat didn’t come up high enough to trap him aggressively or needed to stay pinned to his man. Prince’s ball handling is suspect and forcing him to shoot off one foot on the dribble might’ve been the better decision. 

--Jason Smith (left calf contusion) left the game in the third and didn’t return. He played 16 minutes and only made 2 of 9 shots for five points.

[RELATED: Wall gave away his Game 4 jersey to NFL Pro Bowler]

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NBA reportedly has targeted July 31 to return to play

NBA reportedly has targeted July 31 to return to play

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has told the NBA's Board of Governors that the league has set July 31 as a target date to resume the 2019-20 season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The conversation was held on Friday during a conference call that was intended to discuss several return-to-play formats and a potential timeline for resumption of the season. 

Play has been suspended in the NBA since March 11 when Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. Teams were nearing the end of the regular season with 15-19 games remaining on their schedules. Only the Golden State Warriors were eliminated from the playoffs.

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It is not clear how the NBA plans on returning. Going straight into the playoffs like the NHL has chosen to do, finishing a condensed regular season for 72 games, a group stage World Cup format, or a play-in tournament are all options on the table.

Earlier in the week, general managers expressed their interest in expanding the playoff field from 16 to 20-24 teams. However, they appear to be split on several other key issues.

Currently, the league is in discussions to hold the rest of the season at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. It would be a central location for all the games in a "bubble-like" environment. 

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Report: NBA general managers are in favor of 20 or more playoff teams

Report: NBA general managers are in favor of 20 or more playoff teams

While general managers are split on how the NBA should proceed with the 2020 season, there is one factor that most teams agree on: expanding the playoff field. 

In a survey sent to NBA GMs this week, 83% (25 of 30) of them voted in favor of a "Playoffs Plus" format that would have 20 or more teams in the playoffs, according to Shams Charania. However, the 30 GMs were split on whether to maintain the traditional playoff seeding (53%) or to reseed the field (47%), presumably from 1-20 based on the overall league standings

The traditional NBA's playoff format has 16 team bracket with eight teams from each conference. A format that has been in place since 1984. Adding four teams, whether the four best teams outside the playoffs or two from either conference would make the largest playoff field ever.

Expanding the playoff field would be similar to the NHL's return to play plan which had the top 12 teams in both conferences advancing straight to the playoffs. The NBA is considering a play-in format to include New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio and Sacramento - all Western Conference teams - according to ESPN.

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Other details seem to have less of a consensus from the decision-makers of each franchise. Here are some of the results according to Charania:

  • 53% (16) GMs want to advance directly to the NBA playoffs, 27% (8) would like an abbreviated season with a play-in
  • 60% (18) were in favor of a 72-game season. All teams had completed 63-67 games before the stoppage.
  • Non-playoff teams were split on resuming the season
  • Most GMs wanted the season to conclude by Oct. 1
  • They wanted a larger roster or more flexibility when play resumes

None of the results of the survey are set in stone. Merely they were used to gauge opinions from each team. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will talk with the league’s board of governors to discuss formats and a potential timeline on Friday. 

The Wizards are currently the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference and 5.5 games out of the standard final playoff spot. In terms of the league standings, they have the 22nd-best record in the NBA.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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