On paper, the Atlanta Hawks should take care of the Washington Wizards in Round 2 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference playoffs, setting up a battle against LeBron James’ Cavaliers or (Butler/Rose/Noah/Gasol)’s Bulls. The Hawks had the best record in the East, winning 60 games, while the Wizards won just 46 and looked scattered at times. But they don’t play the games on paper. And the current playoff scenario has the Hawks-Wizards looking much more evenly matched than their regular season records would indicate.
One big reason is the playoff emergence of 6′ 9″ forward Otto Porter for the Wizards. Porter teammate and star Wizards guard John Wall says of Otto: “He does the little things that nobody sees.” And some big ones that everybody does, we might add. Porter’s averaging 10.7 poins and 7.3 rebounds in 34 minutes. The fact that Porter plays small forward behind veteran rainmaker Paul Pierce gives the Wizards unexpectedly strong depth at that critical spot. Porter can rebound and score. And the former Georgetown man is a great defender. Porter was marvelous against Toronto in Round 1. The paper that reads Hawks in 6 doesn’t include much about Porter from the regular season, because his emergence has been sudden.