Dennis Schroder didn’t score the game-winning bucket against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, but he made it easier for Al Horford.
With his team down a point in the closing seconds, Schroder knifed through the paint, drew the defense and flipped a shot off the backboard. It didn’t fall, but Horford was there for the easy put-back, and Atlanta escaped with an 82-81 win in Game 5 of the Easter Conference semifinals.
“I think that was a great play,” Schroder said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Coach told us just get the ball and drive to the lane and try to lay it up. If you miss it, Al Horford’s going to clean it up and lay it up. I’m happy he got the rebound and made it up.”
Horford finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. Schroder, meanwhile, shot just 3-of-12 from the floor for six points, but he also had five rebounds, one steal and tied for the game-high in assists, with seven.
“I didn’t make shots tonight, so I had to do something else,” Schroder said. “I think I defended very well and got the rebounds, tried to find my teammates and tried to create wide-open shots. I’m happy that we won the game.”
Schroder wasn’t the only one who couldn’t find his shot. The Wizards shot just 37.5 percent from the floor, the Hawks shot 41 percent, and both teams combined to shoot 9-of-39 (23.1 percent) from three-point range.
The Hawks and Wizards have gone down to the wire in seemingly every game this series, with four of the five meetings decided by six points or fewer. Atlanta has won three of four since losing Game 1.
“We just got to find a way,” Schroder said. “We got to compete for 48 minutes and try to play how the Hawks play, try to play with space on offense, try to push it, find open teammates and try to play team defense on the defensive end.”
The Hawks are now win away from the conference finals. Game 6 is Friday in Washington at 7 p.m.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we try to close it out,” Schroder said. “We try to go over there, we try to play for 48 minutes, we try to compete for 48 minutes and try to pull it out. They got great fans. They’re going to come out hot, but we got to find a way.”
Schroder, who is from Germany, said this is the best team he’s ever played on.
“We’re 15 players deep, and everybody can play,” the 21-year-old said. “Everybody stays ready. You can see it on Mike Muscala. He was ready when coach told him to get in the game. He helped us a lot from the bench. Kent Bazemore, Pero Antic, everybody is ready. Kyle had one big-shot bomb. Everybody can step up and give us some points and give us some good minutes.”