Extra Pass: Streaking Wizards head to Atlanta for rematch with Hawks

Published November 1, 2021, 2:00 PMMiguel Flores

The Wizards are looking to grab their fourth straight win and sixth overall at the expense of the Hawks.

Who knew all it would take for the Washington Wizards to be good were Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell?

The Wizards, thanks to the aforementioned duo plus a few more solid veterans, have gotten off to one of the hottest starts in the league. Tomorrow, they face another test when they visit the Atlanta Hawks, which you can watch live at 7:30 AM on NBA TV Philippines via Smart GigaPlay or Cignal TV. 

Washington holds a 5-1 record and already has a win against Atlanta this season. They still have their All-Star and franchise backbone Bradley Beal leading the way, but this year's squad is much deeper in key positions. The pieces they got from the Los Angeles Lakers for Russell Westbrook have all worked out. 

Kyle Kuzma is having a career year so far, averaging 15.5 points and a massive 11.8 rebounds per game. Harrell, on the other hand, has rekindled some of the magic that earned him Sixth Man of the Year honors in 2020, bringing in 19.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest. Spencer Dinwiddie, who the Wizards signed in the offseason, has also been terrific in his first year back from an ACL tear.

Though the Wizards lost a superstar and future Hall of Famer member in Westbrook, they recuperated in a more balanced starting five. They sport a steady 3.6 net rating to start this season and they still have room to improve once Beal starts shooting to his usual level and injured centers Daniel Gafford and Thomas Bryant return.

The Hawks, on the other hand, have been a mixed bag to start the season. At 3-3, they have had some encouraging performances and perplexing losses. Their last two games – losses to Philadelphia and Washington – have both been a whimper of an effort from the team that almost made the Finals last year.

Atlanta goes only as far as Trae Young can take them. So far, any team that frustrates the young point guard usually comes out on top. Young has been abysmal in their last two outings, averaging 14 points on 33 percent shooting with three turnovers.

The Hawks’ problems are further aggravated by their porous defense that has surrendered 122 points in each of their last two games. Two of their best defenders in Clint Capela and De’Andre Hunter are still working their way back into shape. Other bench pieces like Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams just recently returned to the lineup from injury.

The Hawks are still getting their feet under them, but they of all teams should know that a slow start could be very hard to rally back from later in the season. Their recent play is reminiscent of their sluggish start last season, and they only got their bearings after a coaching change post-All-Star break.

Although still early in the year, this rematch could already be very important for two teams that want to contend for a playoff spot. The East is shaping up to be as tightly packed from top to bottom, so avoiding the dreaded play-in spots will be difficult for inconsistent teams. 

A game you can monitor on a second screen using your League Pass subscription is the Toronto Raptors (4-3) taking on the New York Knicks (5-1) at 8:00 AM.

This is a home game for the Knicks, so expect a ruckus crowd for the league’s wildest fanbase. They have looked shaky in their last two outings, barely escaping the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Pelicans in games where they led by double-digits.

Toronto brings a feisty team to Madison Square Garden. Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby have been doing a lot of offensive lifting, but the Raptors’ biggest boost has come from rookie Scottie Barnes. Forget the All-Rookie team, the fourth pick of the 2021 Draft already looks like a favorite to crack one of the All-Defensive teams this season.

Regardless of who wins this game, just having the Knicks play a competitive game will be worth it for all the postgame Bing Bongs.


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