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Wizards continue road trip Sunday in Atlanta
The Wizards (15-29) continue their four-game road trip in Atlanta on Sunday, taking on the Hawks (11-35) at 6:00 P.M. Led by Bradley Beal’s 36 points and eight assists, the Wizards delivered a double-digit win in Cleveland on Thursday. Atlanta is coming off a 140-111 loss Friday night against the Thunder in which John Collins led the team with 28 points on 13-16 (.812) shooting.
State Farm Arena | 6:00 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Isaiah Thomas, G – Gary Payton II, G – Bradley Beal, F – Thomas Bryant, C – Ian Mahinmi
Hawks: G – Trae Young, G – Kevin Huerter, F – De'Andre Hunter, F – John Collins, C – Bruno Fernando
Wizards: Rui Hachimura (groin injury – out), Garrison Mathews (sprained right ankle – out), Moritz Wagner (sprained left ankle – out), John Wall (left Achilles rehab – out)
Hawks: DeAndre’ Bembry (right hand neuritis – doubtful), Alex Len (right hip flexor strain – out), Jabari Parker (right shoulder impingement – out), Chandler Parsons (concussion, whiplash, associated disc injury – out)
Since they last met…
The Wizards and Hawks faced off just over two weeks ago, a 111-101 Wizards win at Capital One Arena. Jordan McRae led all scorers with 29, Troy Brown Jr. recorded a double-double off the bench and Washington held Trae Young to 19 points and 0-7 from 3-point range. Even more, the Wizards accomplished it all without Bradley Beal and Thomas Bryant – and with Davis Bertans playing in a limited role in his first game back from a quad strain.
Since that game, a great deal has changed for both teams. Beal, Bryant and Bertans are all back and part of the normal rotation. Beal has scored 38 and 36 points, respectively, in the Wizards last two outings, and has been dominant inside the 3-point arc. Bertans has trailed only Beal in scoring in each of the last two games and has found his shooting touch from deep after taking a few games to get back the elite level he was shooting at prior to the injury. Thomas Bryant has bounced between the starting lineup and a bench role since his return and has shot over 60.0% in each of his last three games. For Atlanta, John Collins has grown even more dominant since last taking on the Wizards, recording four 20-point games, four double- doubles and four multi-block games. The biggest alteration for Atlanta, however, has been their mid-January acquisition of Jeff Teague, a veteran point guard and former Hawk brought in to take some of the point guard pressure off of All-Star Trae Young.
Teague’s presence easing Young’s workload
Until January 15, Young ranked fourth in the league with a 34.0 usage rate, trailing only James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic. The Hawks’ offense ran almost entirely through Young, but received some reinforcement with the acquisition of Teague, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Hawks and the last three and a half with the Pacers and Timberwolves. In his most recent Atlanta debut, Teague scored 15 points and totaled seven assists in 25 minutes of action against the Pistons. In his second game, Teague scored just two points in 11 minutes while Young went off for 42 points and 15 assists against the Raptors. Teague then jumped back into a larger role Wednesday against the Clippers when Young sat out with a right thigh contusion, scoring just three points, but recording eight assists to only one turnover. Both were back in the lineup on Friday in Atlanta’s 29-point loss to Oklahoma City. Since the Hawks acquired Teague, Young’s usage rate has dropped to 31.8.
Wizards’ bigs cleared and nearing returns
With Beal, Bryant and Bertans having made their recent returns to the Wizards’ lineup, the team is again nearing full strength after spending nearly all of December and January severely hampered by injury. Washington was missing as many as eight players at a time throughout that stretch and saw what had once been the highest-rated offense in the league drop in the rankings. Prior to the Wizards’ game on Wednesday against the Miami Heat, head coach Scott Brooks announced that Rui Hachimura (groin injury) had been cleared for all basketball activities and that Moritz Wagner (sprained left ankle) had been cleared for non-contact activities. On Saturday, Brooks announced that Hachimura will “absolutely” return before the All-Star break, with the team’s upcoming six-game homestand looking likely. The returns of Hachimura and Wagner will only strengthen what has been one of the best bench units in the league this season, averaging 60.0 points per game in January.