ATLANTA – This could either be a trap game or a perfect time to stop the bleeding. The Wizards are in Atlanta, which remains one of three Eastern Conference cities in which John Wall has yet to record a win, with Orlando and Indiana the others. Washington hasn’t won on the road against the Hawks in more than six years but they have, arguably, their best chance to end one of the more confounding losing streak.
The Hawks are depleted, undermanned, undersized and on a six-game losing streak as the two teams meet on Wednesday at Philips Arena. All-star center Al Horford, who made the buzzer-beating jumper to give the Hawks a 101-99 overtime win when the teams met on Dec. 13 is out for the season with a torn pectoral. His replacement, Pero Antic is out with a stress fracture in his right ankle. His backup, Gustavo Ayon, is out with right shoulder injury.
That means that the 6-foot-8 Elton Brand, a 34-year-old forward is the only healthy center on the roster.
“We’ve got to worry about ourselves and that’s the main focus that we have to have. What are we doing? Where are we at?” Coach Randy Wittman said. “We can’t control what the circumstances might be of the other team, where they’re at. We have to control what we can control and that’s ourselves. First and foremost, is we’ve got to come out and manufacture a win.”
The Wizards (25-28) have lost three in a row overall but could still jump the Hawks for fifth in the East with a victory. They will most likely look to take advantage of their height by pounding the ball into 6-foot-11 big men Marcin Gortat and Nene since the Hawks don’t have a healthy player taller than 6-8.
“We always want to attack inside,” Wittman said. “We don’t want to get where we’re continually a perimeter oriented team. We got to look inside out and we have the ability to do that. Nothing out of the ordinary of what we want to do. We want to go out and execute the way we have to execute and that’s on both ends of the floor. Trusting in each other, believing in each other on both ends of the floor.”
The Wizards had some success by utilizing a small lineup in their 103-93 loss to Toronto on Tuesday night but Wittman wouldn’t say if he will do the same against the Hawks: “See what happens. Play on the floor dictates that.”
Washington hasn’t won at Philips Arena since Jan. 11, 2008.
(TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus. Radio: WFED-1500).
Here’s some reading to help you get ready for the game: