The Wizards are the Hawks. The Hawks are the Wizards.
The Southeast Division teams have swapped styles at times during the series, but truly went into full Freaky Friday mode Monday during the first half of Game 4.
Washington's limited use of the 3-point shot and in this modern bombs-away era led to relentless critique during the regular season.
Atlanta, second in the league in 3-point percentage, was among the leaders in long-range attempts.
So, naturally the Wizards came out sinking 10 of 15 from beyond the arc in the first half, doubling up the Hawks output (5 of 9).
Personnel played a role in Washington looking inside more than outside over the 82-game season. John Wall's driving ability led to layups. Same for Marcin Gortat and Nene's physical skills. As for Atlanta, the Hawks have penetrators, but no true low-post threat.
So, naturally the top seed had 32 points in the paint before halftime. The fifth-seeded Wizards, playing without the injured Wall for a third straight game, scored 16.
"Role reversal," Hawks forward Paul Millsap said of the first half scenario.
The thing is, for this game, Atlanta wanted a change. Washington's defense through the first three games necessitated one.
"They are really aggressive denying the ball, getting up into you," Hawks guard Jeff Teague said of the Wizards' perimeter defense.
The counter attack? Drive to the rim then drive to the rim and then drive some more. Having two lightning quick guards like Teague and Dennis Schroder helps turn plan into action and helped Atlanta score 65 points before halftime.
"Tonight specifically, it opened up the lane for us," Millsap stated. "We were able to drive, and be more aggressive. We try to counter their aggression. Things we didn't do all series, we did tonight.”
Part of the reason why the Washington Wizards swapped Andre Miller, 39, for Ramon Sessions, 29 at the league trading deadline was to have a better defensive option off the bench for speedsters like Schroder. Without Wall, the need for a quick small guard on the second unit exists yet again.
Of course, Teague also hurt the Wizards plenty as well. Atlanta's two point guards combined for 40 points and 16 assists with five turnovers.
"The last game we really settled for jump shots," Hawks forward and noted perimeter scorer Kyle Korver told Comcast Sportsnet's Chris Miller postgame. "We want to shoot 3's, but we have to get into the paint first. I thought our point guards were really great at that."
In the second half, both sides reverted to form. Each team finished tied with 48 points in the paint even though Wizards center Marcin Gortat struggled throughout for three points on 1 of 7 shooting. Atlanta closed the gap from deep, finishing with nine 3-pointers compared to 12 for Washington.
Led by Bradley Beal scoring 19 of his playoff career-high 34 points in the second half, the Wizards closed the gap on the scoreboard. Down 8-10 points for most of the second half, Washington ended up in position for a game-tying 3-point attempt in the final seconds from that Game 3 hero Paul Pierce simply missed.
Who knows what happens if the Wizards' usual top-10 defense didn't have its own role reversal early on.
“The biggest thing is just the first half, period. If we played the first half like we played the second half, we win the game," Beal stated. "We weren't playing the right defensive concepts."
The Hawks might have been playing a bit different, but ultimately they played just how they wanted.