The Wizards have beaten the teams that they’ve supposed to beat this season and struggled against above average squads. “Struggled” is a bit of an understatement, as they’ve gone 1-13 against teams over .500.
I’m not so into looking at where the team stands in the playoff race when they’re not only not playing well, but are getting smashed against playoff-caliber teams. In this season’s East, the Wizards have to almost make a concerted effort to miss the playoffs, so getting in is pretty much an expectation at this point. Still, for a team, that has frustrated with their up and down play, you have to give them credit for winning the games (and on the road, no less) that they should win. I’m trying to be careful with my words and not come off as a heavy endorser of mediocrity, but I guess this is a start and an encouraging sign of progress. I remember a lot of preseason predictions from Wizards fans for this year and I don’t remember any rational opinion going further than 41-43 wins. It’s often not pretty, but we’re probably seeing play out what we expected before the season began.
There have been plenty of maddening moments so far. Eric Maynor as the primary backup guard hasn’t panned out, while Beal and Nene have missed their default amounts of time to injury (partially or mostly due to their overuse early on). Beal has been in a funk, to say the least. Randy Wittman’s rotations have been inconsistent, which certainly hasn’t helped the team’s play. On a nightly basis, Kevin Seraphin and Jan Vesely bring a roller coaster of emotions. The team’s at times seemingly open refusal to get to the free throw line (fourth fewest free throws in the league). The third quarter has been mostly one rerun of a horror film all season. And, of course, Eric Maynor. With all of that, John Wall’s All-Star level play and the team’s three-point shooting (fifth best in the league) have managed to keep the team hovering around .500.
The Wizards kick off a five-game homestand on Wednesday when they host the Miami Heat, and then get the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia 76ers, and Boston Celtics at home, followed by the Phoenix Suns (without Eric Bledsoe) and Utah Jazz in the first two games of their West Coast road trip. For a team that is 16-6 against teams below .500 this year and playing five of their next seven against such teams, you have to hope this stretch can finally get them over that .500 hump.
Even with this nice stretch, it could be short-lived, as the schedule in the beginning of February is brutal. Who knows, maybe a win streak over the next couple of weeks is the momentum builder needed to get things going and boost the team’s confidence for the tougher opponents down the line.
Right now, the Wizards are a pretty good bad team, but hopefully their hanging on now can lead to some quality wins before it’s all said and done.