Very few people predicted this, and that’s exactly why we play the games. Five months ago, the Washington Wizards were considered just another team in a pack of mediocre Eastern Conference teams. Their 2015-16 campaign, headlined by John Wall and Bradley Beal, got them no further than a 41-41 record. And even with this year’s additions like Trey Burke and Daniel House, they weren’t predicted to make a huge leap.
Instead, they now own the East’s second seed all to themselves, behind only the defending champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Their joining of the East’s elite has arguably become the biggest surprise of the season.
How Did They Do It?
The backcourt combination of John Wall and Bradley Beal – arguably the best in the east now, if not for DeRozan/Lowry – has been on point. For much of the off-season, we were uncertain if the two would ever really be able to gel. In fact, pundits predicted that Washington would win only 43 games this season. Instead, that combo has been the engine for a massive resurgence.
The Washington Wizards have become the first and only team in history to make 15 games above-.500 after starting 2-8 or worse. This kind of turnaround is unprecedented.
The Wizards just became the first team in NBA history to reach 15 games over .500 after starting 2-8 or worse. This is unprecedented
— Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog) March 9, 2017
But just as important as that 1-2 punch has been the depth. The Wizards have shown some serious team effort over their recent stretch:
Bojan Bogdanovic has had three 27-point games over the last five, which is some serious firepower coming off the bench. Markieff Morris hit a go-ahead jumper in the closing seconds of a come-from-behind victory against the Blazers, which is a good show-off of clutch ability. Otto Porter Jr.’s scoring is more reliable than ever – scoring 14 points a game now, on an incredible 45.5% clip from downtown.
When the Wizards need the next man to step up, they step up.
At this rate, 1st round home court advantage is looking like a lock. So the question is, how well can the Washington Wizards do in the second round against the other teams of the East’s elite?
Here’s a look at their current season series results against the Cavs, Celtics, and Raptors:
- Vs. Toronto Raptors – 1-2
- Vs. Boston Celtics – 2-1
- Vs, Cleveland Cavaliers – 0-2
So far, the Wizards have shown they can hang tough with both the Raptors and the Celtics. Only the champs have given them trouble, but they do have one last shot against Cleveland this regular season, on March 25. The Cavs have been in a bit of a slump, however, with Kevin Love out, while the Washington Wizards have only gotten deeper with Brandon Jennings coming on board.
How much better can the Wizards get? They Playoffs begin on Saturday, April 15.