The Atlanta Hawks host the Washington Wizards tonight at Philips Arena in the Peach State. As uncomfortable away from D.C. as a rafter of Turkeys trying to maneuver on any of the ATL’s busy highway interchanges, the Wiz are winless on the road this young season at 0-6. And they have a ten-game losing streak against the Hawks coming into this Thanksgiving night contest. Washington was last victorious against Atlanta in a regular season game almost three full calendar years ago.
From most calculated perspectives, the Wizards would appear to be an easy takedown. But on this national holiday, hope arrives in a cornucopia of forms for the squad from our capital city. The Hawks have lost three games in a row, most recently bested in New Jersey 107-101 in OT on Tuesday night. The Wizards, on the other hand, are coming off of a hard fought, 116-114 overtime victory against our once-upon-a-time (temporary) capital city team – the Philadelphia Sixers.
Third-year center, 7-footer JaVale McGee had his best game of the 2010-11 season in the win, with season-high’s of 24 points and 18 boards – 10 of those rebounds coming on the offensive glass. And first overall pick PG John Wall was back in the Wiz lineup against the Sixers after missing the previous four games with a sprained left foot. Wall finished with 25 points and 6 dimes coming off the bench.
The speedster caused problems for Atlanta in their first season matchup, contributing 28 points and nine assists. Wall is a tough assignment for veteran Mike Bibby, who is approaching the end of his career and no longer has the quickness to keep up with the spry rookie. So it will be interesting to see if Atlanta adjusts their lineup to have someone else defend Wall.
Joe Johnson suffered a preseason injury to his left hand, which may be contributing to his slow start. And the Hawks have been struggling of late, going 2-7 in the last nine games. They are trying to regain the chemistry that ignited their 6-0 run to start the season.
Most of the attention in the Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division this season has been on D-Wade, LeBron and the Miami Heat. But tonight at 8pm ET on TNT, the spotlight will be focused on the intra-division matchup between the Hawks and the Wizards. Eat up, settle in and enjoy the NBA action while you recover. Dick Stockton, Chris Webber and I will be doing the same. Happy Thanksgiving 2010!