The Wizards are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, 2 1/2 games in front of sixth-place Milwaukee with eight remaining.
Washington increased its lead over the Bucks on Wednesday night, defeating Boston 108-91 while Milwaukee lost to Miami. The Wizards have not made the playoffs in consecutive seasons since they had five straight appearances from 1983-87.
“It really shows how we’ve grown as a team and how the chemistry has come together,” said forward Caron Butler, who scored 26 points on 12-of-19 shooting and added six rebounds and a season-high tying five steals. “It’s only going to get better. We’re going to prepare for something special.”
Gilbert Arenas scored 38 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, and added eight rebounds, eight assists and four steals Wednesday. He was 5-of-9 from 3-point range after going 4-for-17 from beyond the arc in his previous three games.
Arenas is averaging 34.0 points in his last four road games, but scored a season-low nine in a home win over against the Hawks on Jan. 11.
Washington recorded 12 steals Wednesday, and has 28 steals and has 49 forced turnovers in its last two games.
The Wizards, winners of two straight and four of six, haven’t lost to the Hawks since March 12, 2004. Washington swept Atlanta last season for the second time in its 45-year history, and is outscoring the Hawks by and average of 15.1 points during the eight-game winning streak.
Atlanta snapped a three-game losing streak with a 101-99 win over Minnesota on Wednesday.
After a Ricky Davis hit the tying basket for Minnesota with about 2 seconds left, Josh Childress took off on a sprint, caught the long inbounds pass from Zaza Pachulia on a bounce and made a layup as time expired.
“It was a total team effort and a great win for us,” said Tyronn Lue, who finished with 16 points. “Hopefully we can continue to play this way.”
Josh Smith had 17 points and tied a career best with 15 rebounds as the Hawks matched a season high of holding five straight opponents under 100 points. Atlanta limited the Timberwolves to eight points in the second quarter.
The Hawks have lost 12 of their last 15, but have split their last six at Philips Arena.
“We made a vow to ourselves that we were going to win 26-30 games, so we could get some momentum going into next year,” Smith said.