The Washington Wizards have won seven of their last eight games, but is their recent hot streak sustainable?
After an insane thrilling overtime loss to Cleveland Monday night, you couldn’t help but to imagine what a 7-game series between these two teams would look like.
It took a hail mary of a turnaround fade away 27-footer from LeBron James with .3 seconds left to send the game into overtime (The King doing King things).
Article continues below ...
With that loss, the Wizards’ 17-game home winning streak was snapped. It’s gone, but not even close to forgotten. During that streak, Washington was demanding the NBA world’s attention. They shot up to a 30-21 record, which is 4th in the Eastern Conference.
They are only two games behind the downward trending Raptors and three games behind the two-seeded Boston Celtics. So how did the Wizards come out of nowhere and start playing good basketball you ask?
He has the highest PER on the team at 23.4, which top 20 in the entire league. Every night he gives you an average of 23 points, 10.4 assists, and 4.4 rebounds. Statistically, the four-time all-star is having a career year, averaging more points and assists than ever before.
The beauty of John Wall this year is that he is a two-edged sword. He leads the league in steals and has gotten his team to buy in on the defensive end. Washington is top 10 in the league in defensive rating and fourth in team steals per game.
If you remember late last season and even early this season, there were rumors that Beal and Wall had some beef, and Gortat and the non-starters had a falling out. The second biggest reason why the Wizards are having this mid-season success is all of their starters are playing well with one another.
They rely on their starters for production more than any other team in the NBA. Their starting five all average in double-figures and those same five players attribute to 80.1 percent of the teams scoring every night! You can also thank them for being second in the league in field goal percentage at 47 percent and sixth in three-point percentage at 37 percent.
Bradley Beal and Otto Porter don’t get enough love for this recent surge in D.C. Upping his scoring output from last year by five points, Beal has made noticeable strides in his all around game. This takes pressure off Wall not always having to be the playmaker. You can see him is getting more comfortable with his one or two dribble moves after working out with NBA skills coach Drew Hanlen. He has the ability to snatch your ankles right out from under you on a step back and hit it with consistency.
Otto Porter leads the league in three-point percentage (46.7%). This is a match made in heaven with John Wall’s drive and kick capabilities. Because he is 6-foot-8 with an even longer wingspan, he is able to guard other wing scorers. Having long athletic wing defenders is an absolute must in todays NBA if you look at the top 2 teams everyone is trying to dethrone.
The Wizards frontcourt is sneaky productive. Markeiff Morris averages 14.4 and 6.8 boards while Marcin Gortat is a walking double double at 12 and 11.5 rebounds per game. Washington is top 10 in the league in opponents scoring in the paint only allowing 42.3. Gortat’s mix of size and strength while playing nearly 35 minutes a game is the main reason for this.
In a league where the stretch-4 is becoming the norm, Markeiff is a perfect fit for the Wizards offensively. His field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and free throw percentage are all up from his career averages.
Knowing Gortat will always be there defensively and for rebounding purposes allows Morris to focus more on the offensive end where he is a perfect role guy in a John Wall oriented offense.
So how real are the Washington Wizards? Very real. The real deal Bradley Beal. The 17 home game winning streak was not a fluke. The Wizards should be taken seriously as a threat in the Eastern Conference by all teams.