Despite finishing the regular season as the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks have been mostly solid but unspectacular in the playoffs, which is not how you’d expect a No. 1 seed to play. But last night, the Hawks stole a win from the Washington Wizards, beating the home team 106-101 and heading into Wednesday’s Game 5 at Atlanta with the series now even at 2-2.
“That’s how we play. That’s how we’ve been playing all year,” said Hawks forward Paul Millsap, who scored 19 points and added five rebounds and six assists in a brilliant all-around game. “Things we didn’t do, pretty much all series, we did tonight.” The Hawks were led by Jeff Teague with 26 points, while Al Horford added 18 points and 10 rebounds.
“To me, personally, I think this is the best we’ve played all series,” said Millsap, who is recovering from a bout with the flu, one that forced Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer to leave him off the starting lineup in Game 3. “Thirty assists, the way we played defense, the way we stepped up, the way we helped each other, the way we moved the basketball, the way we set screens.” Forward/guard Kyle Korver added that the Hawks “played with just a lot of juice, and a lot of energy, and a lot of purpose.”
The Wizards, who played without point guard John Wall for a third straight game, were led by Bradley Beal, who set a personal postseason scoring record with 34 points. Veteran Paul Pierce, the hero of Washington’s tight Game 3 win, had 22, but missed a clutch three-pointer that would have tied the game with just 9.5 seconds remaining in the game.