Mailbag Monday: Have the Wizards’ Playoff Expectations Changed?

BOSTON, MA – DECEMBER 25: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics defends John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards during the game at TD Garden on December 25, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. 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 Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

With John Wall out, do the Washington Wizards still see a path to the Eastern Conference Finals or have their playoff expectations changed? Those questions and more answered in this week’s edition of Mailbag Monday.

Welcome back to another addition of the Washington Wizards Mailbag Monday! The last time we spoke the Wizards were just about to learn that they would be without John Wall for quite some time.

Since then the Wizards have won the last six of eight games without the All-Star point guard and are doing more than just “holding down the fort,” without him. They are excelling. Win one more game before the All-Star break let’s get to this week’s mailbag.

Thanks for the question! Well, I would disagree with the Raptors or anyone not named the team that LeBron James plays on as the favorite in the Eastern conference. The Cavaliers have a brand new squad and they looked mighty impressive in their dressing down of the Boston Celtics Sunday afternoon. They are the favorites for me plain and simple.

Now the Wizards should still feel fairly confident that they too can advance to the Conference Finals. Against the other two top teams in the East, Raptors and Celtics, the Wizards are 3-2. If it weren’t for Markieff Morris going brain-dead at the end of the loss to the Celtics last Thursday, they would be 4-1.

I think the Wizards matchup well with the Raptors. The Raptors also have some playoff demons of their own they need to exercise come May. The Wizards wouldn’t be favorites in that series, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see them pull out that series if we saw it. Make no mistake about it, the Raptors are really, really good, but if the Wizards are healthy I like their chances.

The Celtics pose the same issues they did last year in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals that went seven games. They have a dynamic point guard, talented wing players, a deep bench, and Brad Stevens.

Stevens is a heckuva coach and has the coaching advantage against Scott Brooks. However, the Celtics struggle to score, they’re down to 20th in offensive rating. And although they still have the number one rated defense in basketball, I wonder if those woes offensively could be their downfall.

So to answer your question, I don’t think the goals and expectations of the Wizards have changed. Even with the moves the Cavs made at the deadline, the East is still a crap shoot. While the Wizards have discovered some interesting tidbits playing without Wall. I’d like to see how Wall adjusts his game when he returns.

I’ve said throughout the season that I believe for the Wizards to ultimately get where they want to go, Wall has to shoot less and the ball has to move more. This stretch without him has only reinforced that point.

If Wall embraces the style of play that has led to six wins in their last eight games, then the Wizards should be as confident as anyone playing in the East.

See you all next week, DC Family.