ATLANTA -- The emphatic way in which the door was slammed on the Atlanta Hawks made Friday's closeout for John Wall and Bradley Beal that much sweeter.
They celebrated a Game 6 victory on their floor at Verizon Center two years ago, when Paul Pierce's game-tying three-point shot was waved off. The Wizards almost squandered a 22-point lead until Wall scored 19 of his career-playoff-high 42 points in the fourth quarter to silence Phillips Arena. Beal had 31 points as the duo combine to shoot 27-for-42 from the field, or 64.2%.
"He carried us with his leadership as a player," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "We have a lot of good players who help win us games, but his leadership and Brad's leadership have been great for our young players. In this league, I couldn't ask for two better guys to lead our team."
Dennis Schroder played the best basketball of his career for the Hawks and had 26 points and 10 assists, but he ended up on the wrong end of a pivotal play with 8:27 left in the fourth quarter. After Beal's turnover, Wall chased him down for a block at the rim and then broke down multiple Hawks defenders off the dribble to deliver a bank shot through contact to flip the momentum.
What would follow after that was a pull-up jumper from Wall, an assist to Markieff Morris for a layup, three consecutive made jumpers from Wall and another layup and foul for the and-1. The Wizards were leading by double digits again and the building began to empty.
"Listen, they're bad boys. Both of them," center Marcin Gortat said of Wall and Beal. "They both bring different things to the table and when they're locked in and when they're playing team basketball, they are ridiculously good. That's enough. ... They're both the head of the snake."
In between that spurt to put the game away, Wall took time to jaw courtside with fans and celebrities such as Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Joines. He was turning the lights out for their season just as they did the Wizards' in 2015, when Wall was undercut and broke his hand and wrist here as they lost in six games, too.
"I told him I was going to get 35 or more and we were going to win," Wall said.
After four consecutive games with foul trouble, Morris came through with 17 points and eight rebounds as he kept his hands to himself. His war of words with Paul Millsap ended with the Wizards' big man being respectful now that his first playoff experience is in the books.
"Both teams gave it their all. I give credit to Atlanta," Morris said. "They played as well as possible."
But they didn't have an answer to stop the Wizards' dynamic backcourt.
"Wall and Beal have been the best combo all year in the league in my opinion," Morris said. "Every time you need them to step up, they step up."
Next up is the Boston Celtics, a nemesis for various reasons. The Wizards went 2-2 vs. them in the regular season but Wall and Beal have a lot of uneasy history with them.
In January, Jae Crowder and Wall were fined for an altercation that got physical after lots of postgame chatter. Both teams won on their own home courts. Game 1 is Monday at TD Garden vs. the East's No. 1 seed.
"We can win on the road," Beal said of the Wizards' first victory away from Verizon Center in the playoffs. "We've shown that we can fight through adversity. We were up (22) points and they ended up cutting it back down to three. ... We've won in Boston before so it's going to be a challenge. But I think we're up for it."