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Wiz-Hawks by the numbers: Wait, which team has the better record?

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Wiz-Hawks by the numbers: Wait, which team has the better record?

Numerical nuggets ahead of the Wizards-Hawks meeting in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Game 1 takes place Sunday at 1:00 p.m. in Atlanta. The top-seeded Hawks won 60 games during the regular season and defeated the Brooklyn Nets 4-2 in the first round. The fifth-seeded Wizards went 46-36 before sweeping No. 4 Toronto 4-0.

History Lesson

Washington reached the Eastern Conference semifinals in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1977-78 and 1978-79. That was also the last time the organization went beyond this round, reaching the NBA Finals both times and claiming the championship in 1978.

Atlanta advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals 15 times before this season, including three straight trips between 2009-11. The Hawks are 0-15 in those appearances. The last time Atlanta reached the conference finals came in 1970 when the Hawks were still part of the Western Conference.

Wizards head coach Randy Wittman spent the first five-plus seasons of his career with the Hawks, which included losing a three-peat of losses in Eastern Conference semifinals between 1986-88.

“That’s 28 years ago, wasn’t it? We had the nemesis Boston Celtics we couldn’t get by," Wittman said.

Manipulate the calendar

During the regular season, this head-to-head battle was an early round TKO. Not only did Atlanta win the season series 3-1 -- the Washington victory came when Atlanta rested all its starters --, but they finished 14 games ahead of the Wizards in the standings. Between Nov. 28 and the end of January, the Southeast Division champs. The locals started 31-15, but finished 15-21.

Since March 7 and including the opening round of the playoffs, the Wizards are 15-9. In that same stretch, the Hawks are 15-12 including Friday's 111-87 series-clinching win over the Nets.

"I think early on they hit their peak like in January," Wall said of the Hawks. "A team like this can get their stride back at any time. I think they got their edge back last night against Brooklyn. They showed things where they are great at. We've shown things where we are great at."

Good John Wall

Not all of his numbers against the Hawks are stellar, but Wall's standard stats in the four regular season games look rather nice: 21.0 points, 9.8 assists, 5.3 rebounds. His shooting percentages certainly went up a notch compared to the regular season.

Wall made shot 44.5 percent overall and 30 percent of his 3-point attempts during the season along with 78.5 percent of his free throws.

Against Atlanta, Wall went 49.2 from the field, 46.7 from beyond the arc and 94.4 from the free throw line, all exceeding his regular season numbers. 

Why the difference against the Hawks?

"They do a great job of taking away the paint points," Wall said. "They want to give up a lot of contested threes and mid-range (shots). I have an opportunity in a lot of our sets to be in the corner. I just have to have the confidence to knock down those shots and believe in my ability."

Of course, the Wizards need the speedy guard to avoid settling for jumpers and instead attack the paint relentlessly whether for kick out passes to teammates or attack the basket. Wall took a smaller percentage of his overall shots at the rim (29.5) against Atlanta compared to the overall season (34.8). He also made a much greater percentage (72.2) of those attempts versus a Hawks team that lacks a major size in the frontcourt.

MORE WIZARDS: Wall dealing with strain from shoulder and turnovers against Hawks

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 5: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 5: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

GAME 5: WASHINGTON WIZARDS AT TORONTO RAPTORS

Series: Series tied 2-2
Where: Air Canada Centre
Tip-off: 7:02 p.m. (earlier tipoff than usual)
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Pivotal game

The Wizards have done their part in winning both games at home to even up this series at 2-2. Now comes Game 5, which could very well determine who takes this series.

Winners of Game 5 in a seven-game series tied at 2-2 hold a 164-34 (.828) record all-time. That means teams that lose Game 5 come back to win the final two games and the series only 17.2 percent of the time.

The Wizards need to get this one and they know all too well why. Last year they were in this same position in their second round series against the Boston Celtics. They went down 0-2, won the next two games but then lost Game 5 and ultimately the series in seven games.

Road warriors

The Wizards will also have to do something they have yet to do in a while in Game 5 and that is win on the road. Though they have won eight straight home postseason games, they have lost their last six on the road. It goes back to that Celtics series when Washington lost all four games in Boston. The last time they won on the road in the playoffs was Game 6 last year against the Hawks.

The Raptors are particularly tough in Toronto. They were 34-7 this season at home, tied with the Houston Rockets for the best record in the NBA. 

The recent historical odds are also in Toronto's favor. Since 2003, the home team has won each of the first four games in a seven-game series 35 times. In those series, the home team has held a Game 5 record of 22-13 and a series record of 26-9. If the Raptors get Game 5, history will be on their side to go on to win the series.

Can Otto get going?

Games 3 and 4 in Washington saw All-Star Bradley Beal break out to score 28 and 31 points. Will we see the same from Otto Porter before this series is over?

Game 4 seemed to suggest that is possible. After scoring only one point in the first half, Porter erupted for 10 points in the third quarter alone. Though he only scored 12 points in the game overall, it was the most aggressive we have seen him all series.

Porter is averaging just 10.3 points per game through four playoff games. He is shooting 50 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from three, and as long as the Wizards are winning he won't complain, but Porter can do much more than that on offense. If he starts scoring more, the Wizards will be tough to stop.

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MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

WALL HAS REACHED PEAK FORM AMAZINGLY QUICK

WALL IS BOYCOTTING DRAKE'S MUSIC DURING SERIES

OUBRE IS HELPING THE WIZARDS WIN IN MANY WAYS

For more on the Wizards-Raptors series, check out or latest Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: How they can keep it rolling in Game 5

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards Tipoff podcast: How they can keep it rolling in Game 5

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes, Travis Thomas and Julie Donaldson reset the series and looked ahead to Game 5.

They were joined by TSN Sports anchor Kayla Grey to find out the Toronto perspective. The Wizards have all the momentum in this series, now they just have to keep it going.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!