As you take a hard look around the Eastern Conference playoff scene, you begin to wonder, “Why not the Washington Wizards?”
Possessing a seemingly commanding 3-1 series lead against an offensively challenged Chicago Bulls team, the Wizards seem well on their way to advancing to the conference semifinals. Nothing in any sport is guaranteed yet it looks like they are well on their way to advancing.
Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference the formerly dominant Indiana Pacers are knotted up at 2-2 with the Al Horford-less Atlanta Hawks. The veteran loaded Brooklyn Nets are even with the upstart Toronto Raptors at 2 games apiece and the Heat are wearing out the Bobcats 3-0. The NBA has a NCAA march madness feel almost as it seems like every game no matter the seeding has gone down to the wire.
Should the Wizards take care of business and close out this series, they would face off against the winner of the Hawks and Pacers series. With the Pacers still trying to figure everything out and the Hawks simply not as talented of a team as the Wizards, it would seem that the Wizards would give either one of these teams a challenging series.
The Pacers are actually rather similar to the Bulls; when they were at their peak, they were an elite defensive team that sometimes struggled to score outside of their star, Paul George. Pacers center Roy Hibbert has recently had his minutes severely limited, thus Nene and Gortat would possess favorable matchups down low. John Wall, as he usually does, would seemingly have an advantage on George Hill and Bradley Beal matched up against Lance Stephenson would be a premier battle. With the way the Pacers are playing right now and the fact that the Hawks are limited without Al Horford, the Wizards would appear to match up well against either one.
If we look a little harder in the East you will see the Miami Heat and the Raptors or the Nets duking it out on the opposite side of the Wizards.
The Raptors have tons of athleticism but can they slow down a balanced Wizards attack for seven games? Can Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett make it up and down the court when the Wizards bring out their fast paced, up and down game? I’m not sure and only time will tell but these questions do exist.
The team I haven’t touched on is the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. The Heat, of course have stars in Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
I would counter with the fact that the Wizards have stars too. John Wall is a top point guard and the plays that Bradley Beal has made so far in the playoffs also put him up near that level. Nene abused the defensive player of the year Joakim Noah in games 1 and 2 of the Bulls series and if he can have success against him, who’s to say it won’t come against anyone else?
The Wizards are a balanced team whose scoring can come from a wide variety of places. Every game a new Wizard could catch fire and force the opposition to completely change their game plan. So ask yourself, “Why Not the Wizards?” Who knows how deep the Washington Wizards will go in this year’s NBA playoffs.