The Washington Wizards knocked off the division rival Atlanta Hawks in six games to advance to round two. Here are the five takeaways from the series.
It was fun while it lasted, but the best-of-seven series between the No. 4 Washington Wizards and the No. 5 Atlanta Hawks came to an end on Friday night, as the Wizards knocked off the Hawks 115-99 to win the deciding Game 6.
Washington will play the No. 1 Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. This will be the second rivalry series Washington will play in this postseason. While Atlanta fought hard, the Hawks’ best punch wasn’t enough in Game 6. The Hawks will now look ahead to what should be an interesting offseason.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from their first round series between the Wizards and the Hawks.
5. Ernie Grunfeld has one job this offseason: Rebuild Washington’s bench
Without question, Washington general manager Ernie Grunfeld has done a fine job in assembling the Wizards’ starting five. John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat can hang with most NBA teams on any given night.
Perhaps a poor shooting or rebounding night could wreck this team in a postseason game. However, what will inevitably be Washington’s undoing this spring will be their pitiful bench depth. Outside of Bojan Bogdanovic, Brandon Jennings, and Jason Smith, who can Washington lean on to play more than 10 minutes per game coming off the Wizards’ bench?
Washington can hold its own with Wall and Beal in the backcourt, but when its frontcourt trio of Porter, Morris and Gortat get in foul trouble, the Wizards defense rapidly decays. The Wizards aren’t currently constructed to win playing a ton of half-court defense, as they need to thrive in transition to outpace its opposition.
Grunfeld has one job this summer. He must find at least two to three players he can give to head coach Scott Brooks to fill out his embarrassingly weak bench rotation. Depth didn’t cost the Wizards this first round series, but it was a major reason that Atlanta was able to make it a competitive one for as long as it lasted.