The Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks are on the final day of an unusual four-day break as they resume action in the 2017 NBA playoffs Wednesday, April 19 at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBATV.
The 2017 NBA playoffs feature an Eastern Conference first-round playoff series clash between the No. 4 seed Washington Wizards and the No. 5 seed Atlanta Hawks as the series reopens for Game 2 Wednesday, April 19 at Verizon Center.
The Wizards now find themselves with injury concerns heading into Game 2 as key role players Kelly Oubre Jr. and Jason Smith were forced to miss Monday’s practice as they recuperate from injuries suffered in Game 1. In addition to the Wizards’ lingering injuries, Hawks’ Paul Milsap reflected on the Wizards MMA style of play on Sunday.
Can the Wizards take Game 2 without major role players Oubre and Smith? How did the Wizards react after hearing Millsap’s comments? Will Ian Mahinmi return this series against the Hawks?
Here are some of the biggest headlines heading into Game 2 of the East first-round series.
Kelly Oubre Jr., Jason Smith injury update
Despite the Washington Wizards electing to keep Kelly Oubre Jr. and Jason Smith out of Monday’s team practice due to sore knees, both are anticipated to play in Game 2, per CSN Mid-Atlantic’s J. Michael.
Smith sustained an injury to his right knee when Hawks’ Kent Bazemore collided with Smith in the Wizards Game 1 victory. Smith remained on the floor for several minutes grabbing his right knee as the third quarter expired.
Unlike Smith, Wizards’ Oubre sat out of practice as more of a precautionary reason as he told CSN Mid-Atlantic’s J. Michael that he’s dealing with a sore right knee that’s been lingering since the regular season.
Fortunately, both players practiced Tuesday and will play Wednesday night’s Game 2 against the Hawks.
Millsap voices his opinion on Wizards’ Game 1 play
The Wizards and Hawks, two teams out of the NBA’s Southeast Division, don’t exactly like each other. Bad blood between the teams dates back to the 2015 regular season, but animosity grew even larger after Wall revealed that Hawks’ Dennis Schroder told teammate Bazemore to smack Wall’s fractured wrist in the 2015 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Two years later, the ill will between the Wizards and Hawks was on full display in Game 1 of the East first-round playoff series. Only this time, it was the Hawks forward Millsap who expressed his view on the Wizards mighty defense in Game 1. Evidently, Millsap was bothered by Morris’ aggressive defense as the two exchanged words throughout Sunday’s game.
Following the Hawks Game 1 loss, Millsap voiced his frustration by telling Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Consitution:
"The difference in the game was we were playing basketball and they were playing MMA. They were physical. When the game is like that we have to match their physicality. But again, we’ve got to go get some moves and bring them back to the court."
Then on Monday, Millsap said this about Morris:
Maybe Millsap should also worry about Wizards big man Marcin Gortat, who threw down a mammoth dunk on Millsap in Game 1.
When will Wizards’ Ian Mahinmi return?
Wizards backup center Ian Mahinmi is still recovering from a strained calf he suffered against the Pistons nearly 10 days ago. Despite the initial diagnosis that Mahinmi would recover in 7-10 days, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks told CSNMA’s J. Michael that Mahinmi won’t play in Game 2 and most likely will miss Saturday’s Game 3 in Atlanta.
"He said he was feeling better. He was shooting some free throws. I don’t anticipate him anytime within the next game or so. Definitely not tomorrow and most likely not Saturday."
Mahinmi, who missed the first half of the regular season, averaged six points and five rebounds in the month March and the first half of April before sustaining his latest leg injury.