After losing the season opener on the road in Cleveland, the Washington Wizards entered their two-game home-and-home series with Boston with a playoff mentality.
Yes, it’s incredibly early to mention playoffs, but the Wizards know if they want to turn that corner, they can’t start the season 0-3.
The Celtics are a perennial contender and measuring stick of toughness in the NBA. After the Wizards’ home opening loss against Boston, both the team and coach felt missed opportunities ruined their chances down the stretch.
The Wizards got off to a very slow start that game and found themselves down 18-2 midway through the first quarter. The starters managed only one first quarter field goal before the second unit came in and mounted a comeback.
When asked about the slow start, Wizards coach Randy Wittman said, “You wonder if the sun will ever come back up again.”
With Wall and Nene sidelined, Coach Wittman said that the team needs a go-to player and “someone we can play through.”
Reflecting on the sub-par showing in their first two games, Martell Webster and Bradley Beal called the second game against the Celtics a “must-win,” but a few nights later, the Wizards went to Boston and played a game almost identical to their previous contest: again the starters got off to another slow start before the second unit came in and closed the gap.
One thing noticeably different was the play of rookie guard Bradley Beal. After scoring a mere 10 points in the first two regular season games of his professional career, Beal has elevated his scoring numbers in the last two contests. Beal was frustrated following the home opener, where he only scored two points, and admitted he has to be more aggressive so opposing defenses see him as a threat when he’s on the floor. He answered his own call next game in Boston with 16 points. Friday night against Milwaukee was Beal’s best showing as a pro to date. Finishing with 22 points and two steals, Beal was solid on both ends of the court. With the Wizards missing key players due to injury, teammates and coaches have all pushed Beal to be more aggressive offensively, and he’s gradually adjusting to his role.
As a whole, the starting lineup has been inconsistent, often going long periods of time without scoring. If it weren’t for consistent defensive efforts, the Wizards wouldn’t have been “in” any games at the end. As the team awaits Wall and Nene’s return, and the offense continues to find their way, the Wizards must rely on defense and timely scoring. Coaches are teaching young players to be composed in late game situations and counting on veterans to balance out potential mistakes along the way.
Though the current roster has yet to register a win, the Wizards have a good mix of players. Former Georgetown coach John Thompson likes how coachable this year’s Wizards are. And we all know that hasn’t been the case in recent seasons in Washington.