The Wizards now know who they will face in the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs and it just so happens to be a team they have history with.
Thanks to the Hawks' win over the Hornets on Tuesday night, the fourth-seeded Wizards are officially set to play the fifth-seed Atlanta Hawks. The Wizards will have homecourt advantage, though the date and times of each game has not been determined.
The Wizards have matched up well with Atlanta this season with a 3-1 record in their head-to-head series. Washington edged Atlanta to with the Southeast Division title on March 29.
The Wizards and Hawks famously met two years ago in the second round of the playoffs. Washington had a 1-0 series lead but saw John Wall go down with a broken wrist in Game 1. He missed Games 2-4 and the Hawks took advantage. The Wizards did take Game 3, however, as Paul Pierce hit the game-winner and then afterwards told ESPN the famous line "I called game."
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The Hawks ended up winning the series in six games as Pierce's would-be game-tying shot in Game 6 was called off after a replay. The Wizards were the first team in NBA history to lose a playoff series and have their season end on a replay.
As Wall explained at Monday's shootaround in Detroit, he hasn't forgiven the Hawks for his injury which was caused by Jeff Teague running under him on a fastbreak layup attempt. Teague no longer plays for Atlanta, but Wall still resents the Hawks:
There are more differences in both rosters nowadays. The Wizards don't have Pierce or Nene. The Hawks don't have All-Star Al Horford, but do have Dwight Howard.
Still, there will be plenty of backstories in this one.
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As a fellow NBA head coach, Scott Brooks understands what Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going through. As his former teammate, Ramon Sessions knows how tough Lue is.
Both members of the Wizards shared their reactions after Monday's practice to the news Lue is stepping away from the Cavs to deal with a health issue. Both expressed hope Lue will not be out long as the NBA continues its trek towards the playoffs.
"All of our thoughts are with him," Brooks said. "You hope that it's nothing serious. Health is the most important [thing]. The game is secondary."
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"Prayers out to T-Lue," said Sessions, who played with Lue in Milwaukee. "It's one of those things where you've gotta take care of yourself at the end of the day. Him stepping away is the best thing."
Lue's illness has been a mystery to doctors, according to a statement he released on the Cavaliers' website. He has dealt with chest pains and other symptoms while also struggling to sleep. The hope is that having time off will allow him to get the rest he needs.
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Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to get sleep during the regular season as a coach.
"You just have to figure out ways to get your rest. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you think after a good win you can have a good night's rest or sometimes it's the opposite. It's just hard to get rest. You're traveling in different timezones. You are emotional after games. You eat late. There are a lot of factors that go into it. We don't have a set schedule every night. I have a good staff and I rely on them," he said.
Lue, 40, will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim. The Cavs happen to be in a tight playoff race with the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference battling for position.
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On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by Bullets/Wizards legend Phil Chenier ahead of his jersey retirement set for this upcoming weekend on March 23.
Chenier looked back on his playing and broadcasting career and told great stories. He also shared some memories of the 1978 championship as the franchise gets ready to honor its 40th anniversary.
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!