Everything seemed to be lined up perfectly for the Washington Wizards. With two victories over the Chicago Bulls, and a victory over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat sandwiched in between, the Wizards were rolling. Over the course of their seven prior games, no opponent had managed to score 100 points. They were facing a team in the Detroit Pistons who they had beaten by an average of fifteen points in their previous two meetings. These factors, in addition to the fact that the Pistons were losers of seven of their last nine games, made it seem like the stars were finally aligned for the Wizards to top .500.
The Washington Wizards were led once again by elite point guard John Wall who tallied 34 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds. Despite their floor general’s best efforts, and an eight point halftime lead, the Wizards fell to the Pistons 104- 98. The Wizards were abused in the paint, getting outscored 52-38 by the trio of Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Josh Smith. The paint dominance enforced by the Pistons was the deciding factor in the game as the Wizards got worn down and surrendered 100 points in the loss.
The details of the loss are not nearly as important as the long term implications that were revealed because of it. Losses like this no doubt have to make Wizards fans wonder if this team is truly destined for great things this season. Since the onset of John Wall’s tenure as a Washington Wizard, he has yet to have a winning record. This streak of 223 games is the third longest in NBA history for a former number 1 overall pick.
Veteran Power Forward Nene stated, “I don’t care about this .500, I just care if we play hard, and if we do we deserve to win.” Nene’s comments will not go unnoticed; however, that ever-present road block will definitely remain in the Wizards’ peripheral until it is surpassed.
Although the Wizards seem to be stuck in this purgatory of sorts, I think Wizards fans should still be encouraged by this team’s play and future possibilities. There are many up and coming stars on this team and even recently they have been playing good ball overall. John Wall is excellent and has played to an extremely high level and players like Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat and Nene have been solid.
Yet, the Wizards are still a team with several holes which explains their inability to be great. They are lacking a true small forward as Trevor Ariza is limited offensively and Otto Porter has been basically nonexistent so far. The Wizards are still without a true backup point guard as Garret Temple is simply not a true ball handler and the offense looks plain dysfunctional when Eric Maynor plays. Also, the Wizards are relatively thin on the inside beyond Gortat and Nene.
For the Wizards to be a true contender this season, they need to make a trade to begin to fill some of their holes. Even though the future looks promising, nothing is guaranteed and if there is a chance to do well this year it has to be taken advantage of. Finally, the Wizards have to make changes to escape this mediocrity and improve in to a formidable franchise.
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