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Wizards, Hawks reverse roles in pivotal Game 4


Wizards, Hawks reverse roles in pivotal Game 4

The Wizards are the Hawks. The Hawks are the Wizards.

The Southeast Division teams have swapped styles at times during the series, but truly went into full Freaky Friday mode Monday during the first half of Game 4.

Washington's limited use of the 3-point shot and in this modern bombs-away era led to relentless critique during the regular season.

Atlanta, second in the league in 3-point percentage, was among the leaders in long-range attempts.

So, naturally the Wizards came out sinking 10 of 15 from beyond the arc in the first half, doubling up the Hawks output (5 of 9). 

Personnel played a role in Washington looking inside more than outside over the 82-game season. John Wall's driving ability led to layups. Same for Marcin Gortat and Nene's physical skills. As for Atlanta, the Hawks have penetrators, but no true low-post threat.

So, naturally the top seed had 32 points in the paint before halftime. The fifth-seeded Wizards, playing without the injured Wall for a third straight game, scored 16.

"Role reversal," Hawks forward Paul Millsap said of the first half scenario.

RELATED: Pierce's missed 3 not what costs Wizards in Game 4

The thing is, for this game, Atlanta wanted a change. Washington's defense through the first three games necessitated one.

"They are really aggressive denying the ball, getting up into you," Hawks guard Jeff Teague said of the Wizards' perimeter defense.

The counter attack? Drive to the rim then drive to the rim and then drive some more. Having two lightning quick guards like Teague and Dennis Schroder helps turn plan into action and helped Atlanta score 65 points before halftime.

"Tonight specifically, it opened up the lane for us," Millsap stated. "We were able to drive, and be more aggressive. We try to counter their aggression. Things we didn't do all series, we did tonight.” 

Part of the reason why the Washington Wizards swapped Andre Miller, 39, for Ramon Sessions, 29 at the league trading deadline was to have a better defensive option off the bench for speedsters like Schroder. Without Wall, the need for a quick small guard on the second unit exists yet again.

Of course, Teague also hurt the Wizards plenty as well. Atlanta's two point guards combined for 40 points and 16 assists with five turnovers.

"The last game we really settled for jump shots," Hawks forward and noted perimeter scorer Kyle Korver told Comcast Sportsnet's Chris Miller postgame. "We want to shoot 3's, but we have to get into the paint first. I thought our point guards were really great at that."

In the second half, both sides reverted to form. Each team finished tied with 48 points in the paint even though Wizards center Marcin Gortat struggled throughout for three points on 1 of 7 shooting. Atlanta closed the gap from deep, finishing with nine 3-pointers compared to 12 for Washington.

Led by Bradley Beal scoring 19 of his playoff career-high 34 points in the second half, the Wizards closed the gap on the scoreboard. Down 8-10 points for most of the second half, Washington ended up in position for a game-tying 3-point attempt in the final seconds from that Game 3 hero Paul Pierce simply missed.

Who knows what happens if the Wizards' usual top-10 defense didn't have its own role reversal early on.

“The biggest thing is just the first half, period. If we played the first half like we played the second half, we win the game," Beal stated. "We weren't playing the right defensive concepts."

The Hawks might have been playing a bit different, but ultimately they played just how they wanted.

MORE WIZARDS: Teague shakes off early series struggles to lead Hawks to win

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2018 NBA Draft: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

2018 NBA Draft: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

The 2018 NBA Draft will take place on Thursday night as the newest wave of potential superstars like DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Mo Bamba and Luka Doncic enter the league. Here is everything you need to know for the big night...


When: 7 p.m.
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Radio: ESPN

Wizards draft picks: 15th overall in the first round, 44th overall in the second round

First round order:

1. Phoenix Suns
2. Sacramento Kings
3. Atlanta Hawks
4. Memphis Grizzlies
5. Dallas Mavericks
6. Orlando Magic
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
9. New York Knicks
10. Philadelphia 76ers
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. Los Angeles Clippers
13. Los Angeles Clippers
14. Denver Nuggets
15. Washington Wizards
16. Phoenix Suns
17. Milwaukee Bucks
18. San Antonio Spurs
19. Atlanta Hawks
20. Minnesota Timberwolves
21. Utah Jazz
22. Chicago Bulls
23. Indiana Pacers
24.Portland Trail Blazers
25. Los Angeles Lakers
26. Philadelphia 76ers
27. Boston Celtics
28. Golden State Warriors
29. Brooklyn Nets
30. Atlanta Hawks

Top prospects:

1. DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
2. Marvin Bagley III, Duke
3. Luka Doncic, Slovenia
4. Jaren Jackson, Jr., Michigan State
5. Mo Bamba, Texas
6. Michael Porter, Jr., Missouri
7. Wendell Carter, Duke
8. Trae Young, Oklahoma
9. Collin Sexton, Alabama
10. Kevin Knox, Kentucky

Three things to watch...

Will Leonard get traded?

Last year's draft featured some big trades including Jimmy Butler going to the Timberwolves. This year, there seems to be at least a decent chance it happens with Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs. He wants a trade and they have been meeting with him in recent days, perhaps for a last-ditch pitch to remain with the team. If he gets dealt on draft night, it wouldn't be a huge surprise.

Who will the Kings pick?

A consensus has built for Ayton to go No. 1 to the Suns. After that, it's a major crapshoot and whomever the Kings select will produce a domino effect from there on down. Will they take Bagley, the safe pick, or go a riskier route with Doncic or maybe even Porter, Jr.? The best bet at this point appears to be Bagley, but nobody truly knows.

Where will Young and Porter, Jr. go?

The two most interesting prospects in this draft are Young and Porter, Jr. Young was a sensation in college basketball, but is undersized and appears to be boom-or-bust. He could flame out quickly at the next level or be some iteration of the next Stephen Curry. Porter, Jr. played only three games in college due to a back injury and now has hip issues as well. His talent is undeniable, but his injury history represents significant risk.


For more on the NBA Draft, check out our preview special episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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2018 NBA Draft: A list of Green Room attendees

USA Today Sports

2018 NBA Draft: A list of Green Room attendees

The NBA officially announced a list of 20 players invited to the Green Room at the 2018 NBA Draft. Provided that all attend, here's a list of who'll be there.

  • Miles Bridges, Michigan State
  • Mikal Bridges, Villanova
  • Marvin Bagley III, Duke
  • Mohamed Bamba, Texas
  • Collin Sexton, Alabama
  • Jaren Jackson Jr., Michigan State
  • Lonnie Walker IV, Miami
  • Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova
  • Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech
  • Aaron Holiday, UCLA
  • Deandre Ayton, Arizona
  • Wendell Carter Jr., Duke
  • Luka Doncic, Slovenia
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky
  • Kevin Knox, Kentucky
  • Michael Porter Jr., Missouri
  • Robert Williams, Texas A&M
  • Trae Young, Oklahoma
  • Chandler Hutchison, Boise State
  • Jerome Robinson, Boston College

There are two players each invited from Villanova, Michigan State, Duke and Kentucky.

The 2018 NBA Draft will be Thursday, June 21 at 7 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. It will be broadcast on ESPN and streamed live on WatchESPN. The Wizards have Nos. 15 and 44 picks.