Washington Wizards: Will the Wizards Break the D.C. Curse and Make it to the NBA Finals?

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 23: Kelly Oubre Jr. #12 of the Washington Wizards and Otto Porter Jr. #22 celebrate in the fourth quarter of a game against the Denver Nuggets during an NBA game at Pepsi Center on October 23, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 23: Kelly Oubre Jr. #12 of the Washington Wizards and Otto Porter Jr. #22 celebrate in the fourth quarter of a game against the Denver Nuggets during an NBA game at Pepsi Center on October 23, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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CLEVELAND, OH – MARCH 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards look for the score during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena on March 25, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Wizards defeated the Cavaliers 127-115. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – MARCH 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards look for the score during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena on March 25, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Wizards defeated the Cavaliers 127-115. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Is this the year that the Washington Wizards break the DC sports curse, and reach the NBA Finals?

A question that every DC sports fan has not heard in decades – Could a DC sports team actually make it to the finals? Finals. A word that seems almost unfamiliar to the nation’s capital, even laughable. Everyone in DC knows that their sports teams are cursed. The last time a DC sports team won a championship was in 1991, when the Redskins won the Super Bowl. Since then, the Capitals’ loss in the 1998 Stanley Cup, was the only time a DC sports fan saw one of their four major sports teams to make it to the finals.

That’s not even the worst of it. Washington D.C. is the only city in the country with four major teams, to not have a single team to make a conference finals appearance since 2000. However, the Washington Wizards have a real shot to bring the DC sports curse to an end.

For the Washington Wizards, the goal for the past four seasons has been the Eastern Conference Finals.  Three of the past four years, the Wizards were right there, in reach of completing their goal. However, the DC sports curse kicked in full gear. Whether it was a hot David WestKelly Olynyk or a John Wall broken wrist, the Wizards were knocked out in the second round all three times. Why is would this year be any different?

Before the season started, it seemed as though the Wizards were destined to once again fall short of the conference finals, as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics loaded up over the offseason. However, everything changed five minutes into the season, when the Celtics’ All-Star Gordon Hayward suffered a  horrific broken leg, likely knocking him out for the year. The Celtics stacked roster suddenly didn’t seem so daunting anymore.

Before the Hayward injury, a Cavs-Celtics conference finals rematch seemed not only likely, but automatic. However, with the Celtics likely out of the picture, which team in the East could replace them? The Raptors are one team that comes to mind. They are a good team with a top-five backcourt.

However, come playoff time, the Raptors always seem to fade away, never truly presenting themselves as a serious threat. The Bucks are another team that can pose a threat. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a front-runner in the MVP race, dominating both ends of the floor. However, besides Antetokounmpo, the Bucks roster is mediocre at best. They simply do not have the pieces for a serious playoff run. This leaves just the Wizards.

The Wizards are looking to improve off of their best season in 40 years. For Washington, it all starts with John Wall and Bradley Beal. The House of Guards are one of the best backcourts in the league, if not the best.

Wall has even been mentioned as a legitimate MVP candidate. On Wizards media day, Coach Scott Brooks had this to say about the four-time All-Star:

"“[He’s] one of the best players in basketball. Last year I thought he made a big step, not only on the court but leadership. That’s not always easy to do. But I think now you can really talk about him being in the MVP conversation.” Last season, Wall averaged 23.1 points and 10.7 assists per game, both career highs. This season he is looking to improve on those totals.”"

Beal, on the other hand, is looking to officially make his stardom known in the league. After being snubbed last season, he’s looking for his first All-Star appearance. He has added so many more weapons to his arsenal this season, than just knocking down 3-pointers. In his first three games this season, Beal has driven the ball much more than previous seasons, drawing contact and scoring in the lane.

Wall and Beal combined with Otto Porter, Jr., Markieff Morris, and Marcin Gortat, create one of the best starting fives in the league. Yet, the Wizards’ biggest weakness is their bench. However, we are just three games into the season, and Kelly Oubre, Jr. looks like a  potential sixth man of the year candidate. The Wizards’ roster is great this season.

Wall has stated, that he’s the best point guard in the east. While Beal believes that the Wizards are the best team in the east.

This leaves just one question remaining. Can the Wizards beat Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs? James has made it to the finals seven straight seasons, and is determined to extend his streak to eight. However, with the departure of Kyrie Irving, the Cavs have arguably downgraded. Yes, we are only a week into the season, however the Cavs have been struggling to win against lower class teams, including a 21-point loss to the Magic.

We saw what the Wizards could do to the Cavs last season. On March 25, 2017, the Wizards beat the Cavs 127-115, and truly looked like the better team. At the end of the season the Cavs tanked, dropping from the first seed to the second, eliminating a potential Cavs-Wizards second-round matchup. Beal called them out saying, “Cleveland didn’t want to see us.”

Can the Wizards truly out battle the King in a seven game series? It’s an uphill battle. However, this Wizards team is truly special. The DC curse may finally be over.