The Wizards visit the Hawks to begin the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs. In the first round, it was the Wizards who looked like a number one seed, sweeping the Raptors aside in four straight games, while the Hawks, who are the number one seed, struggled a bit against the Nets before finishing them off in six.
The Wizards shot the ball extremely well against the Raptors, and took (and made) more than their usual number of three pointers. Whether they will be able to keep up that pace against the Hawks will be something to watch for. They also got some good games inside, particularly from Marcin Gortat, who will have to use his size to advantage against the Hawks, while Paul Pierce showed that he still has it in him to provide excellent performances.
The Hawks struggled to get their usual great looks for much of the series against the Nets, but seemed to find some of their groove late in the series. They will have to play much more consistent basketball if they want to be a real threat this post-season. The Nets hurt them in the post with Brook Lopez, something the Hawks need to be aware of going forward against the Wizards' bigs.
Ultimately, I don't want to read too much into the first round, and think the Hawks, who won 60 games in the regular season, are the better team. I expect them to start playing better and take care of the Wizards.
I have high hopes for this series, as the Warriors have been the best team in basketball all season, and the Grizzlies looked great in dispatching the Blazers. I'd have higher hopes if Mike Conley were healthy and available, but he won't go today in game one following his face surgery. Still, the Grizzlies are extremely physical, and work hard on the defensive end, while the Warriors want to push the pace and get early, open looks for their shooters. It's an interesting contrast in styles, though whether the Grizzlies are capable of scoring enough to stay with the Warriors is a big question.
The Warriors swept aside the Pelicans in the first round featuring incredible performances by MVP candidate Stephen Curry (as well as Anthony Davis in a losing cause). Curry averaged nearly 34 a game against the Pelicans on terrific shooting. It will be interesting to see how Memphis defends the arc against the Warriors; my guess is they will start out with Tony Allen on Curry in an attempt to pressure him into a rough night. We'll see.
Offensively, it isn't clear where the Grizzlies have an advantage. They will no doubt try to get Zach Randolph going in the post, presumably against the smaller Draymond Green, but Green has been successfully guarding guys all over the floor all season, and ZBo isn't what he once was. Working Marc Gasol in the high post where Andrew Bogut probably doesn't want to guard is something we'll no doubt get a heavy dose of as well. WIthout Conley, the Grizzlies are even more limited, so hopefully he can return sooner than expected.
Ultimately, the Warriors are too good for this iteration of the Grizzlies, and I expect them to move on, but I suspect it's going to be tougher than many expect, and had Conley been healthy from the start, a real coin-flip series would not have surprised me.
Enjoy the games and chat about them here.