7 Reasons To Be Optimistic About the Washington Wizards | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

7 Reasons To Be Optimistic About the Washington Wizards

By
Updated: May 4, 2017

[Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports]

Ok, I get it. 0-2 is not an ideal start to a series. But there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic heading into Game 3. In fact, there’s seven to be exact.

1. 33-11.

That’s the Wizards home record this season (including playoffs). The cliché is that a playoff series does not start until a home team loses a game. Well, Boston took care of business at TD Garden. Now, it’s Washington’s turn.

We saw this happen in the first-round Atlanta series, with the home team winning the first four games. Same thing happened in the Memphis-San Antonio series.

The Wizards should return to D.C. disappointed, but not demoralized. Sure, they let Game 2 slip away. But they also showed they have no problem hanging with the Celtics. Win two games on your home floor and not only will the series be tied, but Washington will have the momentum.

2. Bradley Beal Can’t Do That Again, Can He?

The conventional wisdom has been that Wall and Beal must dominate to win games. Washington proved that conventional wisdom wrong in Game 2. The Wizards showed they can win (or at least almost win) in other ways.

Washington was on the verge of winning Game 2 despite an inexplicably bad game from Bradley Beal. I’m talking “just had a private conversation with Delonte West” bad. Yet, it still took a historic performance from Isaiah Thomas to beat a Wizards team that was not close to clicking on all cylinders.

If Beal gets it going at home, not even Isaiah will be able to save the Celtics.

3. Isaiah Thomas Can’t Do That Again, Can He?

He can’t, right?

4. One Game at a Time

The “math” will tell you that Washington now must win four out of the remaining five games. Technically, that is true. But you know what is also true? If Washington wins Game 3, the series is 2-1. You know what 2-1 is? That’s the closest a series can possibly be after three games. You could have the closest, most competitive playoff series in the history of the NBA and it would still be 2-1.

So, all Washington has to do is win Game 3 — a game in which they are favored by 5.5 points — and this series will be as close as it could possibly be after three games.

5. The Truth is Somewhere in the Middle

Bradley Beal attempted an uncontested 15-foot, fading jumper at the buzzer to win the game. It missed. Badly. But imagine for a second a world where that shot goes in.

The series would be 1-1. Washington would have home court advantage and every Boston sports radio caller would be complaining that the Celtics are in trouble.

Of course, that’s not what happened. Beal missed and now countless Wizards fans are declaring the series over.

There must be a middle ground, right? Washington played fairly well in Boston and the series has been relatively even-matched. In fact, Boston needed two historic performances (19-39 3PT shooting in Game 1; Isaiah Thomas 53 points in Game 2) to win both games.

Each game has followed a familiar pattern: Washington’s starters get a lead, then their bench blows it. Wash, rinse, repeat.

It’s fair to ask why anyone would think this pattern will change, especially since it’s been playing on repeat all season. Some look at the Wizards bench and ask “Why?” — I look at Bojan Bogdanovic, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Jason Smith and ask, “Why not?”

Why can’t Brooks tweak the rotation slightly and get more minutes for jump shooters like Bogdanovoc and Smith? Why can’t Washington’s bench flip the script — if only for a two minute stretch — and actually extend a lead instead of hemorrhaging it.

If Boston keeps spotting Washington double-digit leads, one of these days the Wizards are going to make them pay. We are not asking for Spurs-level bench play. Just bare-minimum, replacement level play. A couple Brandon Jennings And-1 mix tape auditions in front of the home crowd could be all it takes.

6. John Wall

Wall’s Game 2 performance was overshadowed by Isaiah Thomas’ brilliance, but it shouldn’t be. Wall was absolutely incredible from the opening tip. His production may have dropped off late in the game but that is understandable after carrying your team for 47 minutes.

In the first half it seemed like he would single-handedly bring his team to victory. It turns out he could not do everything by himself. Of course, the corollary to “John Wall can almost win a playoff game by himself” is “John Wall needs some help.”

Markieff Morris played well when he was on the court, but foul trouble (again) limited him to only 26 minutes. Otto Porter looked like his old self for stretches, but the entire five-man unit never really put it together. Hopefully, home court advantage will help get the gang going again.

7. Ian Mahinmi is Getting Closer.

Sorry, even for a column about optimism, this is a bit too much. Mahinmi is now three-and-a-half weeks removed from his calf injury without a return date. But he has to come back sometime, right?

Mahinmi is a much better pick-and-roll defender than Marcin Gortat. He can show on Isaiah Thomas and recover to his man much more quickly. Plus, he’s a better rim protector. When Isaiah drives — like he did to earn his game-tying free throws at the end of regulation in Game 2 — Mahinmi can contest without fouling.

There’s no reason to believe Mahinmi will play a game this series. But if he does, that will give Washington’s defense a much needed weapon in its heretofore barren defensive arsenal.


 

Adam Rubin on EmailAdam Rubin on Twitter
Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.