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Wizards vs. Hawks playoff series predictions from our staff

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Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Kevin Broom: I wouldn’t be a stats nerd if my analysis didn’t include weighted averages, head-to-head analysis, and simulations, so I got all that. I estimate the Wizards with an 81 percent chance of winning the series. For kicks, I simulated the series 100 times. The Wizards won 75 (not 81, because randomness) in an average 5.7 game series. According to the simulation, the Wizards have about a 9 percent chance of sweeping, a 19 percent chance of winning in five, a 29 percent chance of winning in six, and an 18 percent chance of winning in seven.

When the teams faced each other this season, it was a defensive struggle. The Wizards had an offensive rating of just 100.3 vs. Atlanta, but the Hawks managed just a 95.9 against Washington. The Wizards held Atlanta to an offensive rating below 100 in three of their four matchups this year (all of which Washington won).

The frontcourt matchups are the only real concern for the Wizards. Millsap had a down year, and he has a history of declining a bit in the playoffs, but he’s still significantly better than Morris. Howard had an excellent season, has been productive in the postseason, and tends to outplay Gortat head to head. If Gortat gets into foul trouble, they don’t have any good options inside against Howard.

That said, the Wizards have a significant advantage in the backcourt and at small forward. That should be more than enough to push the Wizards past the Hawks.

My prediction: Wizards in six.

L.W.: I think the Wizards' backcourt advantage gives them the series, but how many games it takes will come down to the frontcourt. Paul Millsap is a nightmare matchup for most teams. He can score on the perimeter and in the post, and he is probably one of the smartest and most disciplined defensive players in the league.

Weirdly, Markieff Morris is probably one of the best guys to have against Millsap. He matches his mobility on the perimeter and size inside. But he's also incredibly foul prone, and he tends to take too many jump shots. Millsap will get his, but Morris has the ability to stop him from completely taking over. If he can stay out of foul trouble and has a halfway decent shot selection, I think this will be a very short series.

For Marcin Gortat, he doesn't need to put up big numbers on offense against Dwight Howard, but without Mahinmi, the margin for error is small. He needs to play good positional defense and be efficient with the touches he gets. Flamethrower Jason Smith at stretch 5 is intriguing in this series, but having to rely on him makes me nervous.

I have irrationally high confidence in Playoff Markieff, so I'm taking Wizards in five.

Marcus Atkinson Sr.: I think the biggest issue the Wizards will have is how they will contain Dwight Howard without having the ability to turn to Ian Mahinmi, for at least the first couple of games. Jason Smith has struggled in the past to contain Howard, so I think how the team approaches dealing with Howard will go a long way in determining how things go.

Outside of that, Markieff Morris has dominated his matchups against Paul Millsap. He only averaged 9.3 points per game on 41 percent shooting in three games against the Wizards this season. Another key player will be Tim Hardaway Jr. who is capable of putting points up in a hurry. The Wizards will need solid contributions from Kelly Oubre on the defensive end to contain Hardaway. As long as Morris and Oubre can do their job defensively, I expect the John Wall and Bradley Beal to perform and give the Wizards the series. Wizards in five.

Mike Sykes: Atlanta closed the season on a pretty good note. And while that doesn't matter for the postseason, it does show us exactly what they can do when players are shooting well from deep. I don't expect the Wizards to turn their defense around all of a sudden and I think they could struggle to contain Atlanta if they do happen to get hot from three in a few games here and there. But what the Wizards should really be concerned about is Dwight Howard in the middle. He's not the same Howard from Orlando, but he's still a solid defensive presence in the middle of a floor against a team that has struggled against good rim protectors all season long. Wizards in six.

Jake Weingarten: Wizards in five.

Why five? The Wizards will have one loss due to a defensive breakdown, it won't be a blowout but it will be a poorly defended game down in Atlanta. Otherwise, the Wizards will win the series 4-1 and John Wall will record a triple-double.

Jake Bass: The Hawks are not an amazing team, but there will be a game or two where Dennis and Dwight’s pick and roll will be on, Kent Bazemore will hit some shots and Paul will Paul. I think this series comes down to bench players on each team. If Tim Hardaway gets hot he is a lot to handle and Bojan is similar in that way. Kelly needs to step up big as Ian is out (stated above). I am very interested in playoff Brooks though. I feel like he has some secret line-ups that will cause matchup nightmares for anyone playing Washington. Wizards in six.

Alan Jenkins: Just a few weeks ago, the Hawks were in a tailspin but looked to have gotten back on track. The biggest strength for the Wizards in this series will be the backcourt as the combination of Wall and Beal is much better than Schroder and Hardaway/Dunleavy. If the backcourt can take control of the series, this one could be over quickly.

On the other hand, Markieff Morris will have the hardest matchup going up against Paul Millsap. This is Morris' first taste of the playoffs so it'll be interesting to see if he rises to the occasion. I think Millsap will have at least one dominating game plus Hardaway Jr. can score in bunches so that'll keep them in this series.

At the end of the day, the Wall/Beal combo is going to be too much for the Hawks to overcome and the Wizards advance in six.

Mike Prada: Keef will neutralize Millsap, and the Mahinmi injury may not be so bad because Atlanta spreads it out on its second unit. My only concern is who guards Tim Hardaway Jr. Bet we see a lot of Oubre on Schroder. Wizards in five.

Garrett Shaffer: I'm worried about Mahinmi's injury, if only for Gortat's recent stretch of play. He's had his ups and downs, but I feel that Dwight might be able to pull a few big games off on a tired Machine. Markieff should definitely be an upgrade guarding Millsap compared to Nene, who was less mobile a few years back in the Atlanta series. Wall and Beal will be too much in terms of experience and scoring punch for the young backcourt of Atlanta.

The combo of THJ and Schroder might be able to steal a game or two if Howard plays well also. That's why I think it might take six. Five with a healthy Ian to throw more bodies at Dwight. Wizards in six.

Nick Bilka: I think the Wizards will have a little bit of trouble kicking it into gear after coasting for so long. Atlanta's advantage in Milsap and Howard over Morris and Gortat should help win them a couple of games at home, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them steal Game 1 at Verizon. Ultimately though, the House of Guards will be too much for Atlanta's backcourt to handle. Wizards in seven.

Akbar Naqvi: I think the defense will at least be average with an engaged John Wall and more minutes for the starting lineup. Markieff tends to play Millsap really well, plus he's been hurt lately, so that takes away Atlanta's best player. My biggest concerns are Dwight Howard, who Gortat has struggled with in the past and who has played great in the playoffs( no Mahinmi will hurt) and Tim Hardaway Jr., who's killed the Wizards in the past. However, the Hawks offense is a tire fire and their defense most likely won't be enough to make up for it. Even though they finished strong, the Hawks are slightly worse than their record and might be the least threatening team in the playoffs. Wizards should win in 5.

Kelly Cohen: Wizards in 6 because they are more balanced, and because John and Brad are healthy and playing their best basketball.

Even though the Hawks have a better paint attack with Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard, Wall is too fast and creates offense so seamlessly, and Beal is shooting daggers from beyond the arc.

Plus, Atlanta is in a slump. This will be a battle of offenses, and the Wizards have the edge with their backcourt. Also, Playoff Markieff is a thing, and he does pretty well against Millsap.

And I think the Wizards will be riding a playoff high into this series. Sure, they have to be careful not to get trapped, but they have a chip on their shoulder and something to prove, and will definitely come out winning this series.

Albert Lee: The Wizards haven't been in a position of being the favorites before, and they've failed numerous times when that four game winning streak could turn into a much longer one (They won 15 of 17 games in the middle of the season, but two freak plays prevented it from being a 17 game win streak). Also, they failed to win their season finale at home against Miami that could've made the 50 win season possible at the end.

Also, I believe that the Wizards aren't going to get the home court advantage they're hoping for in this round of the playoffs. The Capitals just finished their first two games at home and are the real big ticket in our city when you look at Wizards vs. Capitals support which is why they get the more favorable dates and TV times. Tomorrow's Easter and people won't go to the game because of that holiday and some will still be in church when this game starts. And Game 2 is on Wednesday at 7 pm. That's also a downer for the Wizards. Needless to say, there are still plenty of tickets available at relatively decent prices for tomorrow's game.

Ultimately, I think the Wizards will win the series because of what everyone else said. But the timing of the series (dates and tipoffs) of the home games make this music to a hawk's ears, and a nightmare for Wizards fans. Wizards in seven.

Matt Silich: Wizards in five. The Wizards seemed bored of winning over the past few months, and hopefully that accounts for a solid portion of their worrying defensive woes. For me, this series rests primarily on the point guard and center match-ups. Washington will win the former by a lot, even if the latter is a bit of a struggle, and they'll advance with relative ease in five close games.

Jake Whitacre: Honestly, I think we might be overthinking this a bit. Washington is well-rested, had a better record than Atlanta after All-Star break (even though they were coasting) and they’ve been a thoroughly better team since the start of December. I’ll just say it: Wizards in four.