It wasn’t the most impressive week for the Washington Wizards, but they nonetheless achieved a major goal. Five years after their last playoff appearance, the Wizards and 2010 top draft pick John Wall succeeded in securing a place in the postseason.
As the playoffs approach, Washington awaits the return of one last piece to the lineup, Nene, before they’re ready for the postseason. The Brazilian power forward is expected to return next week from a knee injury. The end of the regular season is nigh, and Washington is gearing up. The AFRO recaps the week that was for the Washington Wizards.
Mon, Mar. 31: Wizards Blow Late Lead, Fall to Charlotte, 100-94
While the Wizards have been coming on strong, the Charlotte Bobcats are chasing a playoff slot themselves, and used a late run to squeak past the visiting Wizards, 100-94.
Washington held a 12-point lead at the top of the fourth quarter, but Charlotte battled back, finally taking their last lead with just under four minutes left on an Al Jefferson layup. After the Wizards outscored the Bobcats 40-19 in the second quarter, Charlotte used a 30-14 fourth quarter to decide the game. Bradley Beal led Washington with 20 points and six Wizards scored in double figures, but a 48-37 rebound advantage gave the Bobcats the edge.
Wed., April 2: Hot-Shooting Wizards Storm Past Boston, 118-92
Perhaps the prospect of ending the league’s third-longest playoff drought was on the Wizards’ minds, but whatever the reason, Washington played one of its best games to drop the Boston Celtics, 118-92, in front of a proud audience at the Verizon Center.
Wall had a double-double and Marcin Gortat led the team with 22 points. But the Wizards’ defensive performance might have been even better as Washington held Boston to just 39 percent from the floor and 12 percent from long range. Meanwhile, Washington’s 62 percent shooting from the field was their highest percentage in 13 years. Even little-used rookie Otto Porter made an appearance, scoring a season-high nine points and swishing a three-pointer in the waning minutes to bring the crowd to their feet.
Fri., April 4: Late Jumper from Beal Seals 90-89 Win over New York
A visit to Madison Square Garden and a matchup against the surging New York Knicks, who are angling for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, was sure to be a test. But some hot shooting from Beal, including a hotly-contested jumper that swished through the nets with little time left on the clock, gave Washington a 90-89 win.
Beal led the team with 28 points, including 13 in the final quarter as the two teams exchanged the lead. New York’s J.R. Smith scored a game-high 32 points, including eight three-pointers, but it wasn’t enough to shake Beal, who scored the deciding basket against the Knicks at the Garden for the second time this season.
Sat., April 5: Bulls Blow Out Wizards at Home, 96-78
A return to the Verizon Center for a potential playoff preview against the Chicago Bulls didn’t go as planned for the Wizards. The Bulls dominated the game and led by 26 at halftime before blowing out the Wizards, 96-78.
Washington turned in a listless performance, a point of concern as the two teams’ current playoff seeding would pair them together again in a first-round series. Wall led the Wizards with 20 points and six assists. Perhaps still basking in the glow of clinching a playoff spot, the Wizards simply weren’t ready for this game, allowing Chicago to make a statement.
The 2-2 week was symptomatic of the Wizards’ entire season, during which they’ve hovered around the .500 mark. The Wizards will have to be a lot better than that if they want to advance in the playoffs. It is hoped that with forward Nene returning from injury, Washington will have another addition to their lineup that could help them contend in the postseason.