Youth movement: Hawks to stick with Tim Hardaway Jr., Taurean Prince in starting lineup vs. Wizards

The Hawks will keep Tim Hardaway Jr. and rookie Taurean Prince in their starting lineup, meaning veterans Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha will come off the bench for Atlanta's first-round playoff series against the Wizards.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer announced his plans for the starting lineup Friday, citing Atlanta's strong finish in the regular season as one of the reasons for his decision.

"Having [Hardaway and Prince] in the starting lineup has been good," Budenholzer told reporters, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Having [Bazemore] off the bench has been good for us too. The bench has been good for us. It's a good mix of guys that we are going to stick with."

Hardaway, 25, averaged a career-high 14.5 points per game this season and was even more productive in the 30 games that he started, averaging 17.5 points in those contests.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge [of starting]," Hardaway told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I know it's going to be tough battle. We just have to go out there and compete."

Bazemore started 64 games this season but was demoted to the bench in late March after missing five straight games with a knee injury. The five-year veteran signed a four-year, $70 million contract with the Hawks last offseason.

Prince, a 6-foot-8 rookie, started Atlanta's last 10 games of the season, while Sefolosha suffered a groin injury and provided a spark on both ends of the floor, averaging 11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game over that stretch.

Budenholzer told reporters that Sefolosha is "completely healthy" but that he will stick with Prince in the starting lineup.

The Hawks (43-39) won four straight games from April 6-11 to secure the No. 5 seed and a first-round matchup with the division rival Wizards. The best-of-seven series starts Sunday in Washington.

"We have a deep bench, and I think we're going to try to use as much of it as we can," Budenholzer said. "We're in a little bit of a unique position, where, at least going into Game 1, the plan is to keep a deep rotation and play a lot of guys and continue to massage that. If we need to adjust in a game, we will."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.