Haunted by the memories of their second-round playoff exit two years ago, the Washington wizards will have a chance to get some retribution starting on Sunday, when they kicked off their postseason campaign against the team that eliminated them that year - the Atlanta Hawks.

What’s at stake?

John Wall, Bradley Beal and the rest of the Wizards will be more than ready for this year’s postseason rematch with the Hawks. In 2015, Washington looked primed to secure a berth in the East Finals after taking a 2-1 lead in the conference semis, but the Hawks took the next three games, and in the process, eliminated the Wizards at Verizon Wireless Center.

The Hawks would lose all their starters in that series except Paul Millsap over the next two years. The Wizards, on the other hand, kept their nucleus intact and added more offensive firepower with the acquisition of Markieff Morris, Ian Mahinmi, and Bojan Bogdanovic. During the pre-game interviews, Beal confessed that they are salty about that loss and revenge is still on their mind regardless of the fact they are facing a different Hawks team.

Players to Watch:

Wizards: Wall (23.1 points and 10.7 assists per game) and Beal (23.1 points and 3.1 assists per game) will be the main offensive options for Washington in this series. The Wizards put up the 5th best offense in the regular-season at 109.2 ppg, and a bulk of it came from converted fast-break plays.

Speeding up the pace up of the game would bode well for Washington since they have the fastest 1-2 punch in their arsenal.

Hawks: With Al Hoford, Jeff Teague, DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver all playing for different teams now, Millsap is the only player left that has the history of playing the Wizards in a playoff atmosphere.

However, Atlanta’s hope of advancing to the next round will hinge on the performance of Dwight Howard, who averaged 13.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.24 blocks per contest during the regular-season.

Prediction:

In a series that features teams with the contrasting style, the Hawks might still have a slight edge over the Wizards because of their reputation as a solid defensive team.

For the Hawks, limiting the point production of Wall and Beal is a top priority in the series, and they have the exact personnel to do so with pesky defenders like Tim Hardaway and Dennis Schroder.

Again, the key for Washington in this series is to push the ball and prevent the Hawks big man from establishing their ground on the defensive end. They will also need a significant contribution from the likes of Otto Porter and Morris. This is not going to be an easy match-up for Washington, but I like their chance of wrapping up the series in six games.

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