“We are going to shock the world.”
This was the answer Washington season ticket holder and Goodman League head honcho, Miles Rawls, said just moments before tip-off between the Wizards and Heat on Tuesday evening. I had asked the iconic D.C. hoops personality for his prediction of the matchup, one where the Wizards were 10.5-point underdogs and plus-475 payout on the money line.
Rawls was not the only one with confidence that the NBA’s current cellar dwellers could defeat the defending champs at the Verizon Center. Coach Randy Wittman delivered an inspirational message to his team before the game, and he discussed it afterwards.
“They only people that really think you have a chance tonight is us here right in this room,” Wittman remembered telling his team in the locker room.
He then spoke directly to the media attending his press conference: “You guys don’t. The outside didn’t. I said we need to have a statement game, we haven’t had a statement game … what better of an opportunity to come play in front of the fans that we knew were going to be here and to beat this team. And they took it to heart.”
Wittman continued to outline the motivational tactic of creating “doubters.”
“No one thinks you have a chance to win this game,’ that is what people were saying. We all listen. You hear it on the street and all that. These guys, it bothers them. I said that this would be a helluva statement game.” The coached then grinned, “And it sure was.”
And guess who was giddily waiting at the entrance of Washington’s locker room to congratulate Coach Wittman after he concluded his post-game presser? Mr. Rawls, who gave Randy words of encouragement, saying that he he keeps telling people to still believe in Randy’s ability to turn this team around.
Super sub Jordan Crawford’s 22 points and clutch shot-making was instrumental in pulling off what many would have deemed impossible for the franchise that had quickly become another punch line for futility so early in the 2012-13 NBA campaign. Crawford credited the coaching staff as a major factor in the improbable 105-101 Wizards win.
“They put a great game plan in, first of all. They did a great job of switching things up. … We had Miami guessing a little bit,” said Crawford.
Bradley Beal credited the team’s defense and rebounding down the stretch: “There were times where we slipped up and they got a lot of open shots that they missed. But I think we did a great job of limiting them to one or two shots and get the rebound. I think that is the biggest thing that won the game for us.”
Kevin Seraphin poured in another solid offensive performance with 16 points and 10 rebounds, highlighted by four huge buckets in the final quarter. His jumper at the 1:34 mark gave the Wizards a four point lead, and it would be their last successful make of the night.
“When you lose so many close games you start to learn, for sure,” said Seraphin. All of the close losses had helped somehow, and Seraphin saw a future benefit in the big win.
“It gave us confidence to keep going. Now we have the next home game against Golden State, we got another coming, so it just gave us confidence to keep going on our way, to try and get more wins.”
Crawford was needled by Washington Post columnist Mike Wise about to why he didn’t look too excited after the victory. The proud East Detroit native chuckled, “Naw, I’m good. It is just a win, now we got two wins, now let’s get some more.”
Sometimes J-Craw’s “steez” means just saying the simple things, and on to the next one, indeed.
The Wizards Said WHAT?
Below find video of quotes from a proud coach and a joyous Wizards locker room.