Today we got two pivotal Game 3, with series split 1 – 1 and here are my thoughts on it.
Washington Wizards – Atlanta Hawks
After Game 1 I was delighted and confident in my bet on Wizards to win the series, But then news on John Wall came and obviously the fate of the series is now in Wizards medical staff hands.
There are 99% that we won’t see Wall tonight, so I will address the game as if he is out – even though no one made an official statement, you can hear that in other players comments that they need to step up without him and also the feat that he is out till the end of the playoffs – all indicate that he won’t play in Game 3, but then again, we had Ibaka’s return after “season ending injury” last year against the Spurs and many other samples, so follow on the updates, but the write up is based on the thinking that Wall won’t play in Game 3.
Coming back to Game 2, the first game without Wall – we could see few things, but first of all, in my eyes, two things stood out:
1) Wizards back court scored 41 points, with Sessions going 8 from 14 from the field and more important, 3 from 5 behind the line. Sessions had good shooting seasons from behind the line and he had bad seasons, but he shot 31.7% this season, 31.2% career average and the only time he reached the playoffs before, it was with the Lakers, where in 12 games he averaged 16%. This season he is 53% in the playoffs.
Beal scored 20 points but bad percentage.
I just think that overall, Wizards back court reached it’s limit in Game 2 and I doubt they will score 40+ points again in Game 3, without Wall.
2) In Game 2, one team shot 12 from 22 (54.5%) behind the arc, while the other team shot 10 from 29 (34.5%) behind the arc. In 9 out of 10 times, the 54.5% will belong to the Hawks and 34.5% will belong to the Wizards, especially in Atlanta. This was the 10th time.
My points is that with so much going in Wizards favor, they still lost the game by 16 points. Wall isn’t just a scorer. He is amazing defender, 3 levels above Sessions who is simply a terrible defender. Not in the same league, not even on the same planet (just like Conley and Udrih defensive difference). He also finds much better open teammates and was one of the best (first or second in the league) in assists to three pointer on both sides of three point line (near the baseline).
Hawks feel much more confident gambling with Sessions shot from behind the arc, not as willing to help his defender, when Sessions is driving to the hoop and that was in a good game by Sessions.
When he will play poorly, Hawks will have even less reasons to fear him and they will be even more focused to close the paint, while going at Pierce at three pointer and maybe even leave Beal to shoot three pointers, till he proves he can shoot at a high pecentage.
That leads me to the next point. Beal had his share of ankle problems over his short career and he missed a lot of games because of that and when he said, after Game 1, that it was the worst sprained ankle he ever had, it didn’t look good.
He played in Game 2 and says that his ankle is 100%, but given his history, it’s really hard to believe that from “worst sprained ankle of his career”, it became ankle is 100%, with 6 days between the time of the injury and Game 3 and one game in the middle that he played in.
Many many things point to the Hawks tonight, but there is one hope left.
I wrote before the start of the series, about the big advantage Wizards front court has over Hawks front court, given size differences as well as health differences.
12 points scored Gortat and Nene in Game 1 (all 12 points Gortat) and 12 in Game 2 (10 points Gortat). Unless Nene is injured, I see no reason for Wizards front court to play that poorly. Lopez and Young dominated Hawks front court, especially at home and Wizards can do the same. Hawks trying to close the paint as possible and gamble on Wizards back court not to win them behind the arc, just like they did against the Nets, but still, bigger front court is a huge advantage that Wittman and the players must exploit.
Having said that and despite what we saw from the Nets, much weaker team than the Wizards, that managed to win both first home games, without Wall it will be really tough on the Wizards and they will have to rely on Beal being great, Pierce to continue his amazing form and for both big men to step up.
In 4 out of 5 times, it won’t happen. This is playoffs, so everything is possible, but it’s Hawks or nothing for me.
Teams met each other six times this season and the average score is 204 points. Not sure that Wall’s absence should impact the total as much, because his contribution on defense is just as great as his contribution on offense, especially if we compare to Sessions, who is a terrible defender as I mentioned.
Hawks scored 100+ pioints in 4 out of 6 games and the lowest score by them was 98 points.
I will be rooting for the Wizards, both because I bet them for the series and because I like them and it’s easy to cheer for the underdog, that became such due to injury.
But, for me, only one good bet here.
Hawks Over 100 points, 1.90 odds – 7 units play – Pinnacle
Memphis Grizzlies – Golden State Warriors
I like Memphis a lot and their style of play, but I still think that GSW should roll in this series, unless they lose this one and then they could be in trouble, since they will face a pressure they have yet to meet this season.
Warriors lost Game 2, because they played without the sense of urgency. They felt they can step it up in any given minute and win the game. They made 20 points comeback against the Pelicans and sometimes, such comebacks do more harm than good, since it can lead the players to believe they are impossible to beat.
The loss at home + 3 days of rest can do very good things for the Warriors, that should regroup.
On the other side, it’s obvious that for Conley and his poor face, any extra day of rest is a blessing.
Memphis are 2 – 3 against the Warriors this season (and 3 – 2 ATS), including only third home loss of the Warriors this season.
That is absolutely obvious that Warriors are one of the best team in the league, but it would be wrong to write off Memphis chances with Conley playing.
Memphis is amazing defensive team. Won’t get in to who is the best defensive team in the league, but they are candidates for this title for sure.
So should we address Warriors struggles against the Grizzlies to Memphis defensive abilities, just statistic anomality, with Warriors missing a lot of good looks.
I don’t know, but in 99% of the cases, it’s the combo of both. When great players are on fire, you can chase them with all 5 guys from your team and a bat and it still wouldn’t help.
But, good defensive team, usually focuses on two main things – make other guys, not opponent’s best option to take a lot of shots and force the star to take shots from places he is not as good.
If role players suddenly make their shots, there is nothing you can do. If star player just on fire and shoots three feet behind thee point arc, with one hand tied, jumping on one leg, there is nothing you can do.
But if the plan works, role players miss few shots and lose their confidence and also causes opponent star to star forcing shots and take them from bad spots – that causes misses and it becames very fast in to a snow ball that it’s not easy to stop, especially for rookie coach like Kerr.
I think that Thompson took himself out of the game in Game 2. He got frustrated by Allen doing great job on defense, took 2 – 3 bad shots, missed them, tried to force himself and prove that he can score, but missed easy lay up and that ruined the rest of the confidence he had.
Good chances it won’t happen twice, but it is a proof that Warriors players allow others to get in to their head.
Conley, Z-Bo and Allen played beyond amazing game. Gasol and others were very mediocre, so I really don’t think we saw the best game from Grizzlies yet.
On the Warriors, most team played pretty well, but watched abysmal game from their star players, Thompson and Curry, that shot 3 from 17 behind the arc and that brought the whole offensive plan by the Warrios to collapse for obvious reasons.
I honestly changed my mind several times about who will win and/or cover and will it go Under or Over, so easy skip for me.
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Best of luck everybody!!!
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