Below are my three short takes on the Hawks' Game 2 win over Washington.
1. John Wall’s future: As the Hawks’ Kyle Korver said, “It was an inspired effort” by Washington, who made the Hawks’ sweat despite playing without starting point guard John Wall. Wall suffered a sprained left wrist in Sunday’s series opener, and by Tuesday the wrist still was a swollen mess. He was scratched from the lineup shortly before the game, and after coach Randy Wittman had said “all players” on his team would be available to play. The question now: When will Wall return? When asked about his status for Game 3 on Saturday in Washington, Wall said, “I can’t really say. All I can do is keep getting treatment and try to get better and prepare myself like I’m playing Game 3." It’s logical to assume the Wizards were not going to take a risk with Wall playing Tuesday after winning Game 1. But Wall is the centerpiece of Washington’s offense and a point guard with a sprained wrist can be problematic.
UPDATE: More comments from Wall, via former AJC comrade Michael Lee of the Washington Post: "I play through any type of pain. It was just a pain where I felt like I couldn’t control the ball and do what I can to help my team. There is no point. I didn’t want to go out there and have 100 turnovers. It would’ve been a waste of time."
2. Backcourt problems: While DeMarre Carroll again led the Hawks with 22 points, the starting backcourt of Jeff Teague (3-for-12) and Kyle Korver (4-for-11; 1-for-7 in the first half) were a combined 7-for-23, including 4-for-14 on 3-pointers. While this is an offense that tends to live and die with the outside shot, poor shooting is more the reason why the Hawks need to drive to the basket with greater regularity. There were times in the game when players such as Al Horford had the ball and position in the paint and could have turned around for a potential layup, but instead kicked the ball back outside.
3. Defense improvement: The Hawks’ greatest improvement probably was fourth-quarter defense. Washington made only 4 of 15 shots in the final quarter and was held to 15 points. “If we can just get to the point of playing more of those (over) 48 minutes with that kind of defensive intensity — those hands, the activity — that’s what we’re going for,” coach Mike Budenholzer said.