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PREVIEW: Hawks Looking For New Prey; Are The Wizards Next?
Another big game for the Wizards. The month of November is full of them for this team. Only tonight, they get to face the 10-0 Atlanta Hawks on the road. Talk about a challenge, that's enough alone.
Toss in the facts that CWebb didn't travel with the team, the decision to play Howard and his ailing back are a game-time decision, and head coach Bernie Bickerstaff is suffering from the flu and may not coach, and you've got a situation that spells nothing but trouble.
But is it?
First off, Howard must play tonight for the Wizards to have any shot at winning. Yes, they beat the Hawks in the preseason in an overtime game with their second string unit, but the Hawks were playing their own reserves, too. Dikembe Mutombo will have a field day with the current Wizards' lineup, especially if Juwan isn't there to guard Christian Laettner. (And I won't mention solid players like Mookie Blaylock, Steve Smith, and Alan Henderson.)
Keep in mind, the Hawks don't win pretty games. They've struggled with the Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, and Indiana Pacers, and have played other tight games. The Hawks can run up the score, but have also provided some ugly offensive games. But in the end, no matter what happens earlier, the Hawks finish the game off strong. And that's one reason why they are 10-0.
However, with good offensive execution and tight defense, the Wizards should make this a good game. Strickland and Blaylock should have a good battle, Smith and Cheaney always battle each other strongly. Grant against whomever the Hawks' starting small forward is sounds like a wash to me. Laettner on Howard - should be good. Davis on Mutombo could be problematic - expect a lot of double-teaming of Mutombo to force him to make good decisions with passing the ball, something the Wizards should be able to take advantage of. And the benches - Wallace, Ham, and Murray against Henderson and Ed Gray - could be interesting to watch.
I suggest tuning in (on HTS, if you have cable or satellite TV). This game should be much better than the match-up suggested by the teams' records and the Wizards' injury roster.
wtf 18 November 1997