The magic that will help the Washington Wizards get past their first round match up against the Atlanta Hawks is the number 44. Exactly how good do the Wizards need to be defensively in order to win? Well, in all three wins the Wizards to have held the Hawks to under at least 43.6 field goal percentage. The best way to explain the difference in opponents field goal percentage is to compare the Wizards two most recent matchups.
Game 4 was a losing effort for the Wizards at Atlanta who fell 101-111 in an important Game 4. Bradley Beal lead the Wizards with 32 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block. Besides the woeful 42.4 field goal percent by the Wiz, they also allowed the Hawks to shoot 44.4 percent from the floor. This also translated to 38.7 percent from 3-point land. Still, how could the Hawks shoot so efficiently from the floor?
The Wizards allowed 44 points in the paint and allowing that many points and shoots inside would allow for better field goal percentage for any team. In this game in particular, Paul Millsap had 19 points and Dwight Howard had 16 points. Does this mean that Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat are to blame? Morris had zero blocks while Gortat had three. Only three blocks between the two starting bigs will not win most nights. As the team the Wizards only had 5 blocks total, so it is clear it was an area of struggle that night.
In Game 5 the Wizards win a close one at home 103-99. Beal lead all Wizards with 27 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, and 3 blocks. The Wizards shot much better at 45.1 percent from the floor.
Beal’s defense is obviously better in this game’s win versus the previous game’s loss. In this game, the Wiz held the Hawks to 40.9 percent from the field and 29 percent from the arce. They also held the Hawks to just 36 points in the paint. Millsap and Howard only combined for 26 points, most of which came from Millsap. As a team the Wiz had 10 blocks this game with 4 of them came from Morris and Gortat.
Still don’t believe about the power of 44? In the three wins of this first round matchup the Wizards have held the Hawks to an average of 41.67 shooting from the field. In both loses the Hawks shot 46.9 percent from the floor. The highest field goal percentage the Hawks shot and the Wizards still was 43.6 percent. The lowest the Hawk shot from the floor was and they won was 44.4 percent.
Another fun stat for the die hard stat junkies in Wizards wins they held the Hawks to average of 25.67 from 3-point land. In the two losses Wizards losses, the Hawks shot 35.2 percent from the arc.
In the end if the Wizards want to win Game 6 and win the series then they must hold the Hawks under 44 percent shooting. The Wizards will have a good chance of ending the series, but their defense has to show up.