There were more than a few “did he call ‘brick’” jokes when Paul Pierce missed what could have been a dagger three-pointer with 10 seconds left and the Wizards trailing 101-104. Regardless of what he called, after trailing since three minutes remained in the first quarter, the Wizards kept fighting with their All-Star on the sidelines. Perhaps Pierce’s surprise at the open look threw him off.
But that wasn’t the only play that led to a 106-101 Hawks win in Game 4. It’s unclear if even Wall’s presence would have been able to stymie Jeff Teague on the night. The point guard acts as the nexus for all that the Hawks do on the offensive side of the ball, and coach Mike Budenholzer’s decision to amp up the pace by inserting backup point guard Dennis Schröder into the lineup with Teague, worked splendidly for three and a half quarters.
But the Wizards, behind a volume night from Bradley Beal — 11-of-25 overall and 4-of-8 from deep for a game-high 34 points — and Paul Pierce’s continued playoff buster — 22 points, and 5-of-7 from deep — remained in striking distance throughout, even entering the fourth quarter down by 12.
After Otto Porter missed the second of two free throws with 1:36 left in the game, the Hawks led 101-97 but got in trouble on the next possession. ATL took forever to get into their offense after Teague walked the ball up and the shot clock was inside of seven seconds with little movement from tired legs and the ball stagnant at the top of the key.
With no other real option, Jeff Teague came through in the clutch with the top-of-the-arc triplet.
Teague played splendidly in 32 minutes of action. He scored 26 points on 9-of-20 from the field (2/4 3pt.) and dished eight assists. He had two steals and a block and only turned the ball over once. He was exactly the injection the middling playoffs Hawks needed to claim Game 4 on the road and reclaim home-court advantage:
As a team, the Hawks got back to their pass-first mentality on the offensive end with 30 dimes on the night, but the fact Washington was so close to tying it up with their best player on the bench, adds even more intrigue to this series, which most people are ignoring in favor of the games out West and the Cleveland-Chicago fireworks.
If Wall returns, this could go seven, but that’s a really big if and the Hawks are on an upswing with their All-Star point guard finally looking healthy and primed to lead them to the Conference Finals.
(video via @DawkinsMTA)