The Washington Wizards began the season as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. John Wall garnered early MVP praise while he and Bradley Beal quickly became one of the top duos in the league. After an injury to Beal which left him sidelined for an extended period of time, the Wizards began their slow decline from the top, but still managed to rank top-5 in the lowly Eastern Conference.
The Wizards will head into the postseason with a matchup versus a healthy Chicago Bulls team seeking revenge from their early 2013-2014 exit from the NBA playoffs.
With the Wizards struggles throughout the second half of the season, will their troubles extend into the playoffs? Which players can help turn things around?
Team S.U. Debates —
Steve Turner (NBA Writer): The Washington Wizards have been looking extremely tough lately, unfortunately, I believe their rough play will carry over to the playoffs. If the standings stay the same until the end of the season, Washington will be matched up with Chicago Bulls in the first round. I don’t think the Wizards can defeat the Bulls in a seven game series, but it is possible. The Wizards are really going to need their backcourt to step up to the occasion. Bradley Beal and John Wall have the ability to give Chicago a tough time. If Bulls point guard, Derrick Rose, is looking even 80% healthy, it’s not going to be good for the Wizards. Also, Marcin Gortat is going to have to do a phenomenal job of defending Joakim Noah. The Wizards aren’t hopeless in the playoffs, but I don’t think they will be able to beat Chicago and advance out of the first round.
Keith Rivas (Editor, Sport Unbiased): If you were a fan of any other team and your squad had to go up against the Washington Wizards in the playoffs everything would be cool, right? I mean, after all, this is a team that has not played with great chemistry on the court, has had battles within involving their coach, fan base, and even others, and haven’t had much playoff success in recent memory. There’s nothing there for them this year, yeah?
You couldn’t be more wrong.
To put it bluntly, last year’s surprise run and this year’s troubles in the regular season are just what the Wizards will need to go even deeper in the coming post-season. Nothing motivates a team more than trying to out do the other team and leaving it all out in the field of play — and with a wacky fan ruckus behind them when they play in D.C., don’t expect their magic to run out just yet.
Especially with John Wall and Bradley Beal in the building.
Bobby Bourhis (NBA Contributor, If I Were a GM- Personal Blog): If the Washington Wizards face the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs, then they will be in a world of trouble. John Wall and Bradley Beal are a nice duo when they are healthy together, but against the sharp team defense of the Bulls, Washington will struggle to score. The best chance the Wizards have at beating a team like the Bulls, is by getting strong performances from Paul Pierce and Nene. Nene is always battling some type of injury, with his ankle being the most recent problem. If he were able to put together a strong series against the Bulls, where he rebounds the ball well and is scoring in the post, then the Wizards are a much better team. Last year we saw Marcin Gortat perform well in the post season against Joakim Noah and the Bulls. Of course, this was last year where Joakim Noah had very little help due to injuries. Expect to see a back and forth series that ultimately goes in the Bulls’ favor.
Jr. Williams (NBA Editor): The Wizards got my attention early in the season as I thought the combination of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat, and Nene would be formidable enough to rank this team among the best in the east. Injuries and a lack of consistency from Wall and Co. has left me to believe the Wizards will struggle during the playoffs. Collectively, they have the talent but who will rise to the occasion other than John Wall? I think Nene and Gortat will be the underlying factors in determining whether or not the Wizards advance to the second round of the playoffs. If both players can grind it out down-low on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, then the Wizards will improve their chances.