I think the Wizards can dethrone the Atlanta Hawks this season. The teams meet for the first time this year in Atlanta. The Hawks are -4 on NBA odds with a total of 202.5.
Beal Gets No Help Friday
Washington (3-2) comes off a 118-98 loss in Boston -- have to say I didn't see that coming. Although perhaps the Wizards were a bit flat after beating the San Antonio Spurs on a last-second 3-pointer Wednesday. The Celtics took a 40-25 first-quarter lead and really that was that. Washington tried to make it a game with a 12-3 run to start the second half, but Boston answered with an 11-3 surge itself to go back up by 22.
Wizards guard Bradley Beal continued his hot start to the season with 24 points -- he is the third player in franchise history to score at least 24 points in each of the first five games of a season. Beal didn't get much help against the Celtics, however. John Wall was only 6-for-17 from the field for 13 points and had eight turnovers. Marcin Gortat was the only other Wizards player in double figures with 10 points. Washington turned it over a season-high 24 times, which led to 24 Celtics points.
"We just let Boston do whatever they wanted. They pushed us, they hit us, they outphysicaled us. We went through the motions and that’s a disappointing [thing] less than 10 days into the season. We can’t do that,” Washington coach Randy Wittman told reporters.
Reserve forward Drew Gooden didn't play due to back spasms and he's questionable for this one. The Wizards are 2-3 against the spread on NBA odds and 3-1-1 'over/under.'
Hawks Looking Strong Again
So much for Atlanta (6-1) taking a step back from last year's 60-win team -- and losing very good two-way forward DeMarre Carroll to free agency -- thus far. The Hawks have won six straight and are off a 121-115 win in New Orleans on Friday. Kyle Korver returned after sitting out a game simply for rest and had 22 points, hitting 8-for-8 from the field. New Orleans had rallied from 17 down in the fourth to tie it, but Korver hit a 3-pointer for a 111-108 lead and the Hawks wouldn't trail again. Korver is the only player in franchise history to make at least eight field goals and four 3-pointers without a miss. He entered the game 16-for-37 from the field, and just 5-for-20 from 3-point range, in his four games.
It's not clear if Korver will play here. The Hawks are treating him cautiously as he's off ankle surgery. All Korver would say after Friday's game when asked was: "We'll see what happens."
One thing I am perplexed by is that the Hawks have yet to use Tim Hardaway Jr. this season despite giving up their first-round pick in the 2015 draft for him. He does have to get used to the system, but he's behind guys like Lamar Patterson and Justin Holiday in the rotation and that seems laughable.
Atlanta is 4-2-1 ATS on NBA picks and 3-4 O/U.
The Hawks won the first three meetings, two quite easily, but Washington avoided a sweep with a 108-99 victory on April 12 in the team's regular-season home finale. But the Hawks had the top seed in the Eastern Conference well wrapped up by then so they played a bunch of reserves. Their starting five was Dennis Schroder, John Jenkins, Kent Bazemore, Mike Muscala and Elton Brand. Atlanta and Washington then faced off in the conference semifinals and I think the Wizards would have pulled the upset if Wall hadn't injured his wrist. He had 18 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds in a Game 1 win but missed the next three. It was 2-2 when Wall returned, but he wasn't 100 percent. The Hawks won Game 5 at home 82-81 on an Al Horford putback with 1.9 seconds left. Schroder drove the lane and put up a shot that was swatted off the backboard by Wall, but Horford yanked the rebound away from the Wizards' Nene and laid it in. Atlanta then won Game 6 94-91 in D.C. Paul Pierce appeared to tie at the end of regulation but the review showed Pierce let go just after the shot clock expired. That would be his final game in a Washington uniform.
NBA Free Picks: Hawks and 'over.' The Wizards are 2-8 ATS in their past 10 in the second of a back-to-back. Atlanta has covered eight of the past 11 meetings. The 'over' is 7-2 in the past nine meetings in Atlanta.