Hawks ready to turn attention to playoff matchup with Wizards


The Hawks have one game remaining in the regular season — but they have already turned their attention to the playoffs.

The Wizards await in an Eastern Conference first-round playoff series between division rivals. The series will begin either Saturday or Sunday in Washington. The Hawks clinched the No. 5 seed with a 103-76 win over the Hornets on Tuesday. All that is left is a relatively meaningless game at the Pacers. Meaningless for the Hawks. The Pacers are still fighting for one of two final playoff spots.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said following the win over the Hornets that the team will “dig into (the Wizards) maybe starting tonight or tomorrow.”

The Hawks enter the series brimming with confidence. A playoff spot was in jeopardy last week. However, the Hawks rolled off four consecutive wins, including over the top two seeds in the conference in the Celtics and the Cavaliers twice.

“I think we can beat everybody who comes in our way now,” Dennis Schroder said Tuesday. “We’ve just got to play how we play and we are going to be in a good spot.

“I’ve said before, we just got to get everybody back and we are a dangerous team. We can beat everybody we want if we are doing the things right. Now, everybody is back and we’ll try to keep improving game by game. We’ll be ready for the playoffs.”

The Wizards present problems with a dynamic backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal. The Hawks won the first meeting between the teams, 114-99 to open the season. The Wizards won the final three games in the series, including a 104-100 win March 22 in Washington as the Hawks played without the injured Paul Millsap and Kent Bazemore.

The Hawks are healthy again. Millsap (eight games) and Bazemore (five games) are back. Thabo Sefolosha (eight games) returned in Tuesday’s win.

“Even if it takes up to the 82nd game, with four minutes left, to figure it out,” Bazemore said of a Hawks season that can be described as up and down. “The regular season is 82 games for a reason. You have all those games to get ready. It just so happened it was Game 77 and the switch clicked. We haven’t looked back since.”

In the four regular-season games, Wall averaged 18.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists. Beal averaged 21.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Wall missed Game Nos. 2, 3 and 4 in the second-round playoff series between the teams two years ago. The Hawks won in six games.

“Great point guard (John Wall). Great shooting guard (Bradley Beal),” Tim Hardaway Jr. said. “Great role guys coming off the bench. (Marcin) Gortat is going to do all the dirty work. (Markieff Morris) is going to do his thing. We have to go out there and match their mentality, match their effort, on both ends of the floor. We’ve got to contain them and hope Bradley doesn’t get hot like he normally does hitting all these contested shots because they feed off of that.”

So, the Hawks will play their final regular-season game Wednesday night before making a full commitment to the Wizards. They know it won’t be easy.

“We are definitely playing better,” Sefolosha said. “It’s going to be a tough battle but I think we are all ready. We understand now that if we share the ball and the defense is usually pretty good, that is the key for us.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Hawks

Howard hopes to shut mouths after ‘mess’ of last few seasons
Howard hopes to shut mouths after ‘mess’ of last few seasons

Dwight Howard referred to his last several NBA seasons as a “mess” several times in a recent interview. That includes last year playing for his hometown Hawks. Howard was traded to the Hornets earlier this summer. In praise of a reunion with Hornets coach Steve Clifford, who was an assistant with the Magic when Howard entered the NBA as...
Hawks land jersey sponsorship deal with Sharecare
Hawks land jersey sponsorship deal with Sharecare

For the first time, the Hawks will wear an advertising patch on their uniforms, beginning with the 2017-18 season.  The Hawks and Atlanta-based digital health company Sharecare have reached agreement on a five-year deal that will put the Sharecare logo on the front left shoulder of the players’ game jerseys, team and company executives told...
Early glimpse of Hawks’ Nike uniforms
Early glimpse of Hawks’ Nike uniforms

The apparel partnership between the NBA and Nike begins this season, and teams have been releasing what their new-look uniforms this week. The Hawks have not yet released pictures of their uniforms. However, the gray uniform was revealed in a photo shoot of the rookie class taken by the NBA on Friday. Rookies John Collins and Tyler Dorsey represented...
Reeling Dream fall to Lynx as second-half comeback falls short
Reeling Dream fall to Lynx as second-half comeback falls short

The slumping Dream haven’t played “big time basketball.” Losers of four in a row and seven of nine, the last team the Dream probably wanted to see was the 20-3 Minnesota Lynx. The Lynx proved why it’s the best team in the WNBA, extinguishing a second-half rally and defeating Atlanta 81-72 at McCamish Pavilion Tuesday. The Dream...
Hawks waive Diamond Stone
Hawks waive Diamond Stone

The Hawks waived Diamond Stone on Monday in a move that came just weeks after the team acquired the center in a three-way trade with the Clippers and Nuggets earlier this month. Stone, 6-foot-11, 260 pounds, played in four games for the Hawks’ entry in the Las Vegas Summer League this month after the trade. He averaged 9.0 points and 3.5 rebounds...
More Stories