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The Washington Wizards: Looking on the Upside

Are we in the land of Oz?! The Washington Wizards have truthfully been a completely different ball club from the past few years in their recent games played. Why do I say this you might ask? Not because of the fact they are 1-3 right now which is on par with the lackluster performance we are typically used to seeing from the team. Instead, it is because of the Wizard’s capability to actually display a sense of competitiveness. The team has not actually managed to manufacture a winning record yet, but the level of competition they are able to keep up with was a foregone sight a season ago. These actions alone give me some sort of anticipation looking forward as the season moves ahead. The teams that the Wizards have been matching up against to kick the season off haven’t all been elite squads yet but it still has shown points of difficulty. The first game was a loss against the Dallas Mavericks with the ending score being 108-100. In this game, the Wizards still gave more valiant of an effort than I have seen in a while. With the last spectacle being the short-lived playoff run in 2018 losing in the first round to the Toronto Raptors.

The feeling of going into a game and being confident enough to believe that the squad has an actual chance has alluded many Washington fans. Referencing back to the first game of the regular season, if the Wizards all-star Bradley Beal didn’t get thrown out of the game due to receiving a technical in the fourth quarter, there was a high likelihood of winning that game. Yet they lost their most reliable source of talent on the court and ultimately forfeited the game in Dallas. Moving on to game 2 of the regular season, the Wizards faced off against the Oklahoma City Thunder in their arena. Washington as the superior ball club, beat the Thunder which isn’t the most to brag about. Nonetheless, the Wizards team from the last 2 seasons could’ve easily let that game slip through their hands and risk the possibility of being 0-4.  Regardless, it is promising to see that Washington can beat the teams they are supposed to by a reasonable margin winning 97-85 against OKC.

Digressing to game 3 of the season, the Wizards teed off with the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Stadium. The final score fell in favor of San Antonio as they won in a devastating loss for the Wizards losing 122-124. In a courageous effort by the Wizards, the win eventually being decided by a late-game drive by small forward of the Spurs Demar DeRozan. Finishing at the rim with a double-clutch layup with 10 seconds left on the game clock, giving his team a two-point lead with 5 seconds remaining. With the Wizards’ last possession of the game, Beal took a hard drive to the basket getting contact, but no foul resulting in a missed layup as San Antonio escaped with a narrow victory. Unveiling this type of execution against a Gregg Popovich coached team only adds to the aspiration of this team being able to compete.

Now, in one of the most talked-about games in the NBA season so far, the Wizards met their biggest obstacle of the season as they battled in an intense game at Verizon Center last night against a projected number one seed for the playoffs this upcoming postseason, the Houston Rockets. With the all-star dynamic of James Harden and Russell Westbrook, few thought the Wizards stood any chance in this match-up. To the shock of many who don’t even bother to take a second look at the Wizards has now taken notice of the problems that they gave Houston. In this thriller, Beal racked up 48 points which were glamorous to see. James Harden’s response was all too much for this team’s effort overshadowing this performance with a 58 point onslaught. In the closing moments of the game, Beal was fouled as he pulled up for a three and got hit on the arm. With focus, Beal hit the three free throws to tie the game up 158-158. It came down to Harden’s slashing run to the hoop with 2 seconds left in the game drawing a foul on Thomas Bryant only able to knock down one free throw to put his team up one point 158-159. With 2 seconds, that would all in all be enough to put away the Wizards as there just wasn’t enough time left to get a good shot for a chance to win the game.

The change of attitude of this team was great to see coming from the assertive play of Bradley Beal the leader for this team. Rookie Rui Hachimura has been everything that people hoped and more as he has stepped up to the plate as well. Adding to the culmination of all the positives that have been produced, Davis Bertans has been the consistent three-point shooter for the Wizards as he scorched his former team the Spurs going 5/5 for three finishing with 23. Who can forget about the reemergence of Isaiah Thomas showing he can make valid contributions scoring 17 points of many against Houston in that fierce shootout. Washington is still a long shot from making it to the Finals this year, but things are looking on the upside for the Wizards.

John Starcks

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