The Wizards are Playing "Inspired" Basketball and Winning (for Now) | Wizards Blog Truth About

The Wizards are Playing “Inspired” Basketball and Winning (for Now)

Updated: November 13, 2018

[Photo credit to Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images]

The Washington Wizards are on a win streak, their first of the season. Sure, it’s just two games, but every streak has to start somewhere. Against the Orlando Magic, the Wiz actually played inspired for 48 minutes, buckling down defensively and overcoming a 10-point deficit in the second half to win 117-109.

[Editor’s note: The last time the ‘Zards won back-to-back regular season games was in March, against Boston in OT and at home against the Pacers.]

The Wizards are 2-1 in their last three games. More importantly, the Wizards are 2-1 since Stephen A. Smith apparently lit a fire under John Wall. Last week, Smith went on national television and called out John Wall—and the rest of the organization—for underachieving on the court and for allegedly enjoying themselves too much off of the court.

Wall tried to be coy in the locker room after the game about whether all of the kerfuffle has impacted him. He responding “Nah” to a direct question about Smith’s comments.

Wall’s All-Star backcourt mate, Bradley Beal, had a different take:

“Y’all pissed him off, man. It’s you all’s fault. He is going to come out and play like Wolf Wall. That is what we need him to do. I am happy you guys kind of lit a little flame up under him. He got us all going. It is John, we need him to do that. We need him to lead the ship, lead us and continue to bring it on both ends. I think when he gets after it defensively for us, I think that gets everybody else going, too.”

What is clear is that Wall is playing with more energy, and infectious energy at that. The closeouts are more timely, the switches are being better communicated and the ball is being rebounded. The Wizards out-rebounded an opponent for the second game in a row, totaling 41 boards compared to 34 for the Magic.

After the game as the normal herd of media members walked from the coach’s press conference into the locker room, Stephen A. Smith was already there, bringing First Take to the Wizards face-to-face.

I can confirm that Stephen A. did talk to Wall and Beal individually, and Wall downplaying any “beef” with Smith alludes to the fact that there is a mutual respect between player and reporter.

Wall is simply playing better and his teammates are also playing better (against teams with losing records). Austin Rivers and Tomas Satoransky, for example, had one of their better outings as a backup backcourt duo and their ability to stabilize the second unit while Wall and Beal rested was critical.

Just as critical was the play of Jeff Green, who finished with 18 points on 6-for-7 shooting and had a classic Jeff Green on F Street performance, except this time he did it in a Wizards uniform. Perhaps especially at the 5 spot, Green unlocks a level of versatility in the Wizards lineups that allows them to play smaller and be able to drive 3-point shooters off the arc. After the game, Brooks was very complimentary of Green’s game and what he brings to the Wizards:

“We need his all-around play. He can guard just about everybody on the floor. Certain bigs he’ll have trouble guarding but I thought with that lineup we had at the end of the game, I thought he did a pretty good job on the big fellow. He’s skilled and he’s big and he takes up a lot of space and he scored one time on [Markieff Morris] but he fought for it and it was late in the shot clock.”

For the second game in a row, Brooks elected to go with Jeff Green in one of his forward spots, while leaving “max” contract Otto Porter on the bench for the final frame. Green has played better than Porter this season, but the two Georgetown products are close—there should not be any jealousy or animosity between them, as everyone inside the organization is simply happy to win…

Whether the motivation comes from Stephen A. Smith, vocal fans on Twitter, or the local media does not really matter. The only thing that does, at this point, is that the Wizards are finally here to play basketball.

There are still 69 basketball games left to be played.

Yes, the Wizards beat two teams that had already beaten them, and neither the Heat nor the Magic are contenders, but for a Wizards team with a habit of playing down to the level of their inferior competition, any victory against any opponent holds weight.

Washington finds themselves 1.5 games back of the eighth and final playoff spot, and 3.5 games back of the 4-seed and home-court advantage in the playoffs. Everything this team wants is directly in front of them, and as owner Ted Leonsis stated before the season, “There are no more excuses.”


Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. Bylines on bylines on bylines.

Will write for food.