John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards play Dwight Howard, Paul Millsap and the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night as they aim to continue rising the ranks of the NBA's Eastern Conference.
Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch…
WASHINGTON WIZARDS at ATLANTA HAWKS
Where: Philips Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: CSN (coverage begins at 7:30 p.m.)
Live stream: CSNmidatlantic.com
Radio: 1500 AM
Three things to watch...
Jockeying for position
After going 23-12 in their last 35 games, the Wizards find themselves fifth in the Eastern Conference and rising by the week. On Friday night, they will get a shot at one of the few teams standing in front of them. The Hawks currently hold the fourth seed in the East and lead the Wizards by just 1 1/2 games. A win on Friday and the Wizards would be just a 1/2 game out of fourth.
The Hawks also sit ahead of Washington in the Southeast Division. The Hawks hold first place, so a win would put the Wizards within a 1/2 game of first in the Southeast. That may not mean much for playoff standings anymore, but considering Washington has not won a division since 1979, it would be no small feat to win it. At 37 years, they have the longest division title drought in the NBA.
Another road test
Like the Wizards, the Hawks are also playing some of their best basketball as of late. Atlanta has won 12 of their last 15 games and three of their last four. The Wizards have won 12 of their last 16 and six of their last seven.
Interestingly enough, the Hawks aren't much better at home than they are on the road. In Atlanta, they are 13-9. On the road, they are 14-10. The Wizards have a much more dramatic split at 19-6 at home compared to 6-14 on the road. The Wizards did take two of three on their most recent road trip, though, so this game should give them a chance to prove whether they have truly turned a corner away from the Verizon Center.
All eyes on Millsap
The Hawks have several players that can hurt you from point guard Dennis Schroder (17.6 ppg, 6.3 apg) to center Dwight Howard (13.7 ppg, 12.8 rpg), but no one deserves more attention than power forward Paul Millsap, who on Thursday was named an Eastern Conference All-Star. Millsap is having another strong year with 18 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. He is one of the smartest and most versatile players in the NBA.
The Wizards have seen Millsap and the Hawks twice this season and split the matchups. A reason why they split those games was because they saw very different results from Millsap. In their loss on Oct. 27 in the season opener, he dropped 28 points and shot 11-for-20 from the field. In their win, he scored a modest 16 points on 5-for-14 from the field. He was limited largely by Wizards forward Markieff Morris, who has shown at times this season he can be a real pest for stretch-fours. Getting a similar performance from Morris on Friday night would go a long way towards helping them win.