Washington Wizards: Time to do more than only beat the best

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Russell Westbrook. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Russell Westbrook. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Don’t be surprised when the Washington Wizards take down another contender.

The Washington Wizards did the unexpected…again. This time, they beat the Utah Jazz, the best team in the NBA, 131-122 one night after losing to the 16-24 Sacramento Kings. The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the Wizards and a nine-game losing streak to the Utah Jazz. However, even though the Wizards have one of the worst records in the NBA, their success against some of the juggernauts is no longer surprising.

The Wizards have just 15 wins, but seven of them have come vs. the top six teams in the Western Conference (Jazz, Lakers, Suns, Clippers, Nuggets (x2), Trail Blazers). Against teams with a winning percentage of 0.600 or better as of March 19, the Wizards have a record of 9-7. Nearly two-thirds of their wins have come against the winningest teams in the NBA.

It’s an odd phenomenon for a team that has been mostly underperforming. In wins like the ones over Utah and Phoenix and Brooklyn, the Wizards show their ceiling. On a good night, Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, when getting even a little bit of help, can keep this team afloat against nearly anybody. Against Utah, the two were magnificent and combined for 78 points.

It’s worth noting, though, that the Wizards are 0-5 vs. two winning teams in their own conference; the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks. Maybe the solution is as simple as switching conferences.

Probably not, though. Far too often this season, a loss to the Sacramento Kings or a drubbing from the Memphis Grizzlies is around the corner to erase any hope the Wizards build up with after a surprising win(s).

The Washington Wizards won’t make it to the playoffs playing like this.

It’s long been time for the WIzards to start beating up on the bad teams, but with the season now in its back half, the Wizards’ recent slide has made that even more imperative.

The Wizards’ five losses to open the post-all-star slate pushed a playoff birth, which still seems to be the team’s main goal, even further out of reach. At 15-25, the Wizards are 13th in the Eastern Conference, 2.5 games out of a play-in spot, and 5.0 games from earning the right to skip the play-in. With only 32 games left this season, that won’t be an easy deficit to overcome. The Wizards will need to keep doing the unbelievable by beating the best teams while also taking care of business against the bad ones. Surprisingly, it’s been the latter that has given them the most trouble thus far.