Washington Wizards Are Back In The 2016-17 NBA Playoff Picture

BY Fansided and Jen Julie Smith/FanSided via Wiz of Awes • December 29, 2016

Washington Wizards had a rough start to the 2016-17 NBA season, but they’ve roared back into the middle of the playoff picture.

On Monday, the Washington Wizards avenged the shellacking they received last week at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, beating the Bucks at home, 107-102.

Washington’s road to redemption continued on Wednesday, when they soundly beat the Indiana Pacers, 111-105, who they also lost to last week.

John Wall caught fire during the fourth quarter in the Pacers’ game, while Otto Porter knocked down the dagger 3-point shot to put the Wizards up 103-98 with just over a minute remaining in the game.

Instead of repeating the same mistakes they made earlier in the season, the Washington Wizards are beginning to learn and have adjusted their game accordingly.

Most importantly, defense – which was seemingly nonexistent at the beginning of the season – has become a main component to the Wizards’ success.

Porter’s emergence as the Wizards’ most efficient player has lit a fire under everyone on the roster, starting with the intensity.

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    His willingness to crash the glass, find open looks from deep and defend the perimeter has rubbed off on his teammates, including Kelly Oubre.

    Bradley Beal, on the other hand, has become the sharpshooter that everyone has known him to be.

    Wall’s increased focus on scoring has also boosted his numbers and will likely land him a spot on an All-NBA team.

    But even more impressive is Wall’s increased attention to detail.

    Instead of jogging up the court and relying on rim protection constantly, Wall has clearly put more effort on the defensive side of the ball.

    As with everything else, the Washington Wizards’ defense is greatly dependent on Wall. And for the first time all season, he’s beginning to emphasize its importance.

    Markieff Morris is also continuing to produce, albeit on an inconsistent basis.

    His toughness is something that Washington lacked for most of last season. He’s shut down the likes of Paul Millsap and Kristaps Porzingis, who are widely considered two of the best power-forwards in the Eastern Conference.

    On paper, the Washington Wizards seemed to have a legitimate mixture of talent and skill before the beginning of the season. Wall’s distribution coupled with Beal’s shooting made them nearly perfect in the backcourt.

    Marcin Gortat‘s finesse and screen-setting alongside Morris’ pick-and-pop tendencies made them solid together, too.

    The bench, of course, still needs work.

    Scott Brooks has had issues at the backup point-guard position and the frontcourt is still weak with Ian Mahinmi out. The team, overall, is heavily reliant on the starting five, but things are finally starting to come together.

    Washington is one game back from .500 and have the Brooklyn Nets coming up on their schedule. If things go according to plan and Brooks manages to lead his team as he’s been doing lately, the Wizards should be in the middle of the playoff picture relatively soon.



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