January 22, 2022

Washington Wizards Second Round Game 5 Review: Wizards, with Wall, pushed to brink of elimination


The Washington Wizards finally had their All-Star point guard John Wall returning to their starting lineup 10 days after suffering five non-displaced fractures in his left wrist. In games that Wall has been unable to play in, Washington is a miserable 11-41 since his debut. However, the return of Wall was not the solution to all the answers for the Wizards. After blowing a seven-point fourth quarter lead, Paul Pierce gave the Wizards a one point lead with 8.9 seconds remaining on a corner three.

Unfortunately, Al Horford was able to put-back Dennis Schroeder’s missed layup attempt over Nene’s back and the Atlanta Hawks stole Game 5, 82-81.

Wall started at point guard as expected when Martell Webster was made inactive. The former No. 1 overall pick started the game with two impressive transition buckets under control. Wall’s return was most welcomed by Marcin Gortat, who struggled in Game 4 because of his lack of opportunities close to the rim. The Polish Hammer was active early as he started the game 3 of 5 from the field, one of which was a direct assist from Wall. The Wizards failed to take advantage of opportunities as the Hawks erased easy layup attempts with blocks. Additionally, Wall had some questionable decision that allowed the Hawks to hold a 23-19 lead after the first quarter.

The Wizards second unit came out looking atrocious as they continued to get outhustled on the offensive end. The Hawks got great offensive production from a believed to be defensive liability in the post, with Mike Muscala scoring Atlanta’s first eight points of the quarter. Subsequently, the Wizards turned on the heat as they played to their potential. For a span of six minutes Washington only allowed the Hawks to score two points as the Wizards took their first lead since early in the game off of a 16-2 run. The Hawks tried to chip away late, but Paul Pierce would have none of it, drilling the Wizards first three-pointer of the game. By holding the Hawks to a mere 18 points in the quarter, the Wizards held a small advantage at halftime at 47-41.

The Wizards got off to a strong start to the second half as they secured a double digit lead. The intensity of the game picked up as Nene and Millsap, as well as Pierce and Carroll, got into verbal altercations in two separate instances. The Hawks countered with a 7-0 run, but the Wizards would not allow the home team to retake the lead for the time being. After the Wizards upped the lead back up to seven, a 10-0 run by the Hawks put the Wizards down for the first time in over 10 minutes. The Hawks were not perfect offensively, but the Wizards were not either, leading to low scoring going into the fourth quarter with Atlanta up 63-62.

Bradley Beal gave the Wizards a lift to start the fourth quarter as back-to-back jump shots allowed Washington to regain the lead. With the Hawks not scoring until the 6:34 mark of the quarter, the Wizards went on a 9-0 run. Although the Hawks did not get their first field goal of the quarter until 4:58 left in the game, back-to-back three-pointers sparked an 8-0 run, forcing Randy Wittman to call timeout with the Wizards lead down to one.

The Hawks extended their run to 14-0 before Pierce finally ended the offensive drought with a 3. Gortat was able to tie the game at 78 and the Wizards had the ball with 33 seconds left in the game. A Paul Pierce turnover with no foul call gave the Hawks a layup in transition. Pierce made up his miscue by hitting a three-pointer with 8.9 seconds remaining, but that left enough time for Al Horford to put-back a Dennis Schroeder miss with 1.9 seconds remaining. The Wizards only managed a half court heave that fell short and the Hawks won 82-81

Why the Wizards Won:

  • Wall’s return was suppose to limit the miscues on the offensive end, but the rust and hesitation was evident. The All-Star point guard committed six of the Wizards’ 19 turnovers that the Hawks cashed into 20 points, which in a low-scoring game was critical. Randy Wittman would go on to say the turnovers were the primary reason for losing a fourth quarter lead because of how they led to easy Atlanta baskets.
  • After scoring 30 points in the paint in the first half, the Wizards only got 10 points inside in the second. A lot of this can be chalked up to Nene playing out of control at the rim and shooting just 4 of 11 from the field.
  • Not executing on enough opportunities while giving up too many to the Hawks. The Wizards had 15 percent (13 of 87) of their shots blocked in the game, many from point-blank range. Compounding the problem was the allowance of 13 offensive rebounds that directly caused them to lose the game at the end.

Needless to say this was a big game for the Washington Wizards. The winner of Game 5 in a seven-game series after being tied 2-2 goes on to win the series a whopping 82 percent of the time throughout history, giving the Wizards just a 18 percent chance to win back-to-back games. With Washington returning home on Friday, they will have to try and extend the series. Although John Wall was able to play the entire game tonight, the extra rest to get rid of all the remaining swelling will result in his game to returning to fluid form and hopefully a chance to continue their season.

Today could easily go down as the worst day in DC sports history as the Capitals were knocked out of the playoffs in Game 7 after being 101 seconds away from advancing in Game 5. Although the Wizards still have something still to fight for, it would take a near miracle for Washington to avoid another heartbreak in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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