Tension arises from the final Washington Wizards game of the season. Many fans were content with the loss to Cleveland. The 100-93 defeat on Wednesday means they stand-alone with the fourth-worst record in the NBA, and not tied with two other teams (New Jersey and Sacramento) for the fifth worst record, which could have had major implications on the NBA Draft Lottery. Other the other hand, they lost to Cleveland and looked pretty terrible in doing so.
Here’s where the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” conflict arises. During the game, Comcast’s television play-by-play man Steve Buckhantz mentioned multiple times how Flip Saunders instructed his players before the game that he wanted them to treat it like a playoff affair. But removing John Wall, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee from the fourth quarter equation (when Washington went into the final period with a 74-71 lead), and then later taking out Jordan Crawford three and a half minutes into the period (the Cavaliers having taken an 81-76 lead), clearly swings the philosophy from treating it like a playoff atmosphere to tanking for the lottery. Worth mentioning that Wall “tweaked” something or another during the game (didn’t look major, better to be safe than sorry), Blatche and McGee were playing like they didn’t deserve to stay on the floor (we’ll get to them), and Crawford was 2-14 from the field (the lackadaisical demeanor assumed by some on the team clearly having an effect on the unit as a whole).
Flip Saunders told the Washington Post:
“I thought our first, main group played really well. I probably would like to see them play the whole game, the way they were playing. We were moving the ball, we were really active and pretty much dominating in many aspects. But it was a good opportunity for us to see a lot of the young guys.”