TIPOFF: Wizards look to keep up their winning ways on road
May. 05, 2015
The Washington Wizards are right at home on the road.
Over the last two years, the Wizards have been the ultimate road warriors in the playoffs, winning eight of nine games away from D.C. and becoming the first team in NBA history to capture four straight Game 1s in the other team's arena.
Their latest road victory gave the Wizards a surprising 1-0 lead over top-seeded Atlanta in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The teams meet again tonight at Philips Arena, with the Hawks desperate to even things up before the best-of-seven series shifts to Washington for Games 3 and 4.
"You try to get two on the road, but most importantly try to get the first game," Wizards star John Wall said. "I feel like that's the key game to try to put yourself in a good position and have an opportunity to try to get another one and go home up 2-0."
Out West, No. 1-seeded Golden State and MVP Stephen Curry will try to keep up their rampage through the postseason when they host the Grizzlies in Game 2 of their conference semifinal.
Like Washington, the Warriors have yet to lose in the playoffs, sweeping New Orleans in the opening round before beating Memphis 101-86.
Washington, the fifth seed in the East and coming off a sweep of Toronto, extended its amazing road record by rallying from an early 11-point deficit to beat the Hawks 104-98 in Game 1.
Atlanta was playing on just a 36-hour turnaround after taking longer than expected to get past Brooklyn in the first round. The Wizards had a week between series.
It showed. The Hawks turned in the ultimate Jekyll-and-Hyde performance, shooting 64 percent in the opening quarter to lead 63-53 at the half, before stumbling to just 25 percent over the final two periods, including a dreadful 5-of-28 showing in the fourth.
On one crucial possession with just over 2 minutes remaining, the Hawks grabbed five offensive rebounds but missed six straight shots — three of them right under the basket.
"We know it's going to be totally tougher than what it was," Wall said. "Those guys are probably not going to miss as many shots as they did in the fourth quarter, but I feel like we can play better."
The Hawks had plenty of good looks throughout Game 1, providing hope that their loss was just an aberration, partly the result of a quirky schedule that forced them to play what were essentially back-to-back games from one round to the next.
While no one was using fatigue as an excuse, it was clear the Hawks felt they did plenty of things right in the series opener.
"Internally, we felt like we won the game," forward Paul Millsap said. "We feel good about it. A 10-point lead going into halftime, then we come back out and miss open shots. We took some good shots, just missed."
A look at tonight's games, all times EDT:
Wizards at Hawks, Washington leads 1-0, 8 p.m., TNT.
Bradley Beal equaled a career playoff high with 28 points in Game 1 but sprained his right ankle in the fourth quarter. While he was able to return for the closing minutes after getting it taped, all eyes will be on the 6-foot-5 guard to see if he's slowed at all.
"I'm good," Beal insisted after practice Monday. "I've sprained this ankle 30 times. The swelling's never going away."
He'll have to work hard at both ends of the court, also getting the job of shadowing Atlanta's 3-point specialist, Kyle Korver. Beal did a good job in Game 1, limiting Korver to 3-of-11 shooting from beyond the arc.
"There was a couple of times in the game I told him he had to stop moving for at least 10 seconds, let me catch my breath," Beal joked.
At the end, the Hawks ran out of gas.
"I think fatigue is definitely what got to them," Beal said.
Grizzlies at Warriors, Golden State leads 1-0, 10:30 p.m., TNT.
After winning the award as the league's top player, Stephen Curry will be honored beforehand during a ceremony with Commissioner Adam Silver.
Curry has certainly looked like an MVP in the playoffs, averaging 31.4 points a game in Golden State's first five games.
He had 22 points and seven assists in Game 1 against Memphis, though neither team was especially happy about the way it played.
"I thought the energy level was great," Curry said. "We were a little sloppy."
The Grizzlies have their work cut out to steal a game in Golden State, where the Warriors are 42-2 this season, including the playoffs. Their last loss at Oracle Arena was more than three months ago, a 113-111 overtime setback to Chicago.
Memphis has been playing without point guard Mike Conley, who is recovering from broken bones in his face.
He's listed as doubtful for Tuesday but hopes to play with a protective mask.
"If they put me in there, I'll work through it," he said after practice Monday. "I have no chance if I don't play fearless. That's when you do get hurt."
AP Sports Writer Antonio Gonzalez in Oakland, California and AP freelance writers Amy Jinkner-Lloyd in Atlanta and Rick Eymer in Oakland contributed to this report.
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