Washington Wizards: Upcoming games vs. Chicago and Minnesota are already must-wins

Washington Wizards (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The 2020-21 season has not started well for the Washington Wizards. Don’t hit the panic button just yet, though.

0-3. Winless. We’re one week into the new NBA season, and the Washington Wizards are still searching for their first win of the new campaign. We knew it would be an accelerated season, but we didn’t know the Wizards would be in must-win territory so soon.

After dropping a hard-fought opener to the 76ers and then falling apart in back-to-back games vs. the Orlando Magic, there haven’t even been many moral victories yet. Rookie Deni Avdija looks legit already, but that’s about all there’s been to get excited about. It’s been quite the fall from where things were just a week ago. Russell Westbrook’s debut was set to usher in a new era of Wizards basketball. So far, too many things look the same.

The defense is lackadaisical and flat out bad. It’s early, but the Wizards already find themselves in familiar territory. They rank 23rd in opponent points per game and 25th in defensive rating. There are still 69 games to play, and we shouldn’t read too much into three-game samples at the start of the season, but giving up 120+ to the Magic in back-to-back games doesn’t bode well for what this team will look like over a longer stretch.

The rotations have been puzzling, too. Whether it be playing three-guard lineups that get torched, or failing to surround Westbrook with shooters, or leaving Isaac Bonga on the bench while the Magic have their way on offense, coach Scott Brooks has made some head-scratching calls early this season.

You could blame it on no Rui Hahcimura or a shortened preseason, but these are issues that have been present throughout the Scott Brooks era. They aren’t new problems popping up, although the personnel on the floor may look different. As a result, the still winless Wizards are already in must-win territory and it’s still the first month of the season. Losing three games, all three to Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls, puts the Wizards behind in possible tiebreaker situations. They’ve already lost any possible tiebreaker with Orlando. The best they can finish vs. the Magic this season is 1-2.

Fortunately, they have a great opportunity to right the ship over their next three games. Their next two games, both vs. the Chicago Bulls (another winless bunch), are their most winnable games this season. Then, the Wizards will matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves, another beatable opponent, to kick off the new year.

That’s three very winnable games in a row. If the Wizards can take care of business, they’ll be back at .500, right in the Eastern Conference mix. Three bounce-back wins won’t completely erase the slow start, but they will get the Wizards back on track and provide some momentum for a tough six-game slate in early January.

If the Wizards cannot beat the Magic, Bulls, and Timberwolves, they’re in for a brutal January. If they can’t win at least two of the next three games, the Wizards risk being in a deep, deep hole after less than a month of regular-season games.

dark. Next. What in the world is Scott Brooks thinking?

Scott Brooks’ contract is up at the end of the season. When Russell Westbrook arrived in D.C., it looked like Brooks, who spent many successful years in Oklahoma City with Westbrook, might be in line for an extension. If these losses keep piing up, he should be gone before the season’s over.