Washington Wizards found themselves slipping out of the NBA Playoff picture early on, but now Bradley Beal wants the team to have home court advantage.
The Verizon Center isn’t necessarily known for having a hostile environment.
Visiting teams have become used to being booed while shooting free throws – but only in the fourth quarter, when the Washington Wizards give away free chicken sandwiches if an opponent misses two straight from the line.
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Those putting on the Wizards’ uniform have voiced their concern about the crowd in the past, too.
Given how close other cities are to the nation’s capital, the Wizards have often found themselves playing away at home, with the opponent (like the Celtics or Knicks, for instance) getting cheered instead.
But this season, the Wizards’ fans have had something to cheer for, even if it isn’t on a consistent basis.
Washington is currently 25th in total attendance, according to ESPN, but the team has experienced plenty of success playing at home.
On Monday afternoon, the Washington Wizards picked up a blowout victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, marking their 12th straight win inside the Verizon Center.
Now that they’re two games above .500, sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference standings, the Wizards are giving their fans legitimate reasons to come to Chinatown.
As the wins have piled up, the atmosphere inside the Verizon Center is noticeably different than it was at the beginning of the season when the Wizards were at the bottom of the standings.
Scott Brooks was used to coaching in front of passionate fans during his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder, so the adjustment for him likely took some time.
But after Monday’s win, Brooks credited the fans for the team’s success at home.
“We want to make this a special place,” Brooks said. “Crowd’s been great. We just got to continue to give them something that they can be proud of. I tell them all the time our fans, they want 48 minutes of great effort. They’re not looking for perfection, they’re looking for great effort.”
Bradley Beal, who scored 25 points in the win on Monday, echoed Brooks’ sentiments about the team’s fans.
“One, I want to credit our fans because they are awesome,” Beal said. “We feed off of their energy and their constant support. It’s just us protecting our house.”
Beal also went out of his way to mention the team’s ultimate goal – one that includes being in the NBA Playoffs.
“We have that extra urge here [and] that will to want to win,” Beal said. “We want to be a great team at home; we want to have home court when playoff time comes around. These are all things that we’re preparing for down the line. It starts with us taking care of our house, and we’re doing that – it’s collectively and it’s together.”