Believe it or not, but the No. 5 seed Atlanta Hawks have a winning record this season against each of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference: the Celtics, Cavaliers and Raptors. That is not the case against the fourth-seeded team, the Washington Wizards, whom they will face in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
The Wizards, in fact, have won three straight against Atlanta including a 104-100 victory just a few weeks ago on March 22. Here is a look at those four matchups between the Wizards and Hawks this season...
Oct. 27 in Atlanta
Hawks 114, Wizards 99
The lone Hawks' win against the Wizards was the very first game of the season in Atlanta. That was, of course, a much different time for the Wizards, who were set to begin their season 2-8. John Wall was not in full game shape yet and was limited to just 12 points on 3-of-15 shooting. And Scott Brooks was still trying to learn the strengths and weaknesses of his bench.
That game was a good example of what Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard are capable of down low for Atlanta. Millsap had 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Howard put up 11 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks. The Hawks shot 46.2 percent from three and outrebounded the Wizards 59-48.
The game also featured this play, which surely Wall has not forgotten:
— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) October 28, 2016
Nov. 4 in Washington
Wizards 95, Hawks 92
The Wizards got payback just a week later as the Hawks saw a completely different version of Wall and Beal in Washington's first win of the season. Wall had 21 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two steals. Beal dropped 28 points including 13-of-14 from the free throw line. The Wizards were much better at defending the three, holding the Hawks to 20 percent.
Howard still got his with 20 points and 12 rebounds, but it was a different story for Millsap. He had a decent 16 points and seven rebounds, but shot just 5-for-14 from the field. That was in part because Markieff Morris did a very good job of locking him down. Morris vs. Millsap should be a huge matchup in the playoff series.
Jan. 27 in Atlanta
Wizards 112, Hawks 86
This was the most lopsided of the four games, a 26-point blowout win for the Wizards. All five Wizards starters scored in double-figures, including Wall who had 19 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Otto Porter had a big night with 21 points, 12 rebounds and five threes. The Wizards shot 41.9 percent from three as a team.
This time it was Washington who enjoyed a huge rebounding advantage, 52-41. The Wizards also held the Hawks to 29 percent from three and forced 19 turnovers. Millsap in that game was held to just four points on 1-of-7 shooting.
March 22 in Washington
Wizards 104, Hawks 100
Playing without Millsap, the Hawks nearly pulled off the upset in the last matchup between these teams at the Verizon Center. That was in large part due to a 29-point performance by Tim Hardaway, Jr. who has enjoyed a breakout season. Hardaway shot 9-of-16 from the field and hit three threes. Howard had 15 points and 14 rebounds, while point guard Dennis Schroder added 18 points and six assists.
The Wizards again outrebounded the Hawks, this time 54-44, despite Howard's presence. Ian Mahinmi had 10 boards off the bench, Beal had nine, Porter had eight and Morris seven. It will be interesting to see if the Wizards can beat the Hawks on the glass in this series with Howard and Millsap down low.
Here is a quick glance at how the two teams have matched up this season head-to-head: