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GameDay: Wizards at Magic – Don’t fail me now..

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Wizards (40-38) at Magic (23-55)

April 11, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Amway Center, Orlando, FL
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 106.7FM The Fan

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Projected starting lineups:

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C- Marcin Gortat
PF- Trevor Booker
SF- Trevor Ariza
SG- Bradley Beal
PG- John Wall

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C- Dewayne Dedmon
PF- Kyle O’Quinn
SF- Maurice Harkless
SG- Arron Afflalo
PG- Jameer Nelson

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Last time they met was..

March 14, 2014 @ Amway Center

Late-game heroics that won’t incite your coach to publicly criticize your effort. That was the story for the Wizards when they faced the Magic in Orlando last month. John Wall didn’t shoot particularly well going just 7-for-18, but he knocked down four 3’s including two in the final minute to help send the game to overtime. Wall was one of three Wizards to finish with 20 or more points with Beal and Gortat being the others.

The Wizards won this game mostly at the free throw line. Yes, read that again. The Magic just earned just 10 attempts at the line, making eight of them while the Wizards went 23-for-29. Though the Wizards were outscored in the paint, Marcin Gortat was a force, grabbing 14 boards and getting to the line the most. For most of the game, the defense sputtered and the offense was out of wack. It wasn’t until about the last minute of regulation and into overtime when Wall and his teammates got turnt up and surged to the finish. The Wizards scored 18 points in that overtime period, 17 times more than what they scored in OT against Charlotte two nights ago.

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Please, don’t fail me now..

After a decisive win over the Celtics at home followed by Bradley Beal’s takeover of Manhattan against the Knicks, the Wizards were seemingly molding into playoff fashion. But what may be the actuality of the Wizards just a week before their first postseason appearance in six seasons is a team led by a tandem of half-baked youngsters, backed up by waning veterans, and directed by an underachieving coach.

This was first evidenced a week ago when the Wizards faced a fundamentally sound and superbly coached Chicago Bulls team. The Bulls, a fixture in the Eastern Conference playoffs with or without their MVP, came out and “smacked” the Wizards per coach Wittman’s post-game summary, with the reaction being to learn from what happened and transpose those lessons into improvement. Ok. Sure. We were humbled by Wittman’s collective approach and consequently acknowledged that the Wizards getting throttled by the more experienced guys could help wake our guys up.

So what became of that lesson the Wizards “learned” against Chicago? Well, this past Wednesday rolled around, four long days after that game and the Wizards showed up without having completed their homework, no number 2 pencil, and they were chewing gum. The Wizards would fall behind by 20 in the first half, botch a game-tying defensive possession in regulation, avoid passing to an open shooter on the final offensive possession in regulation, then conclude the session by scoring just one point in the overtime period.

The aftermath: UG-LAY. Randy Wittman called out his backcourt for their lack of effort and enthusiasm. He blamed them for just going through the motions and not showing enough intensity. We’ve heard this tune before. It’s the same hook, just different verses. However this version of the song was released at a really bad time. It’s like if Eminem dropped “Relapse” on the same day Nas drops “Stillmatic”.

What made this more of a shit show was John Wall’s denial of Wittman’s accusations. This has been a case more than just once or twice this season where Wittman questions the demeanor of his players and subsequently the players counter his feelings with ones of their own. What’s important now is damage control, and by that I mean the Wizards have four games left on their regular season schedule, enough to quickly scrub themselves of their shortcomings and settle any qualms that may exist between anyone in that locker room, player or coach. With the first playoff game just one weekend away, this is a terrible time for mismanagement by the coaching staff and an even worse time for the Wizards to start losing chemistry via poor play.

The time is now for the Wizards to revert back to the ways that initially propelled them into playoff position, and it all starts tonight in Orlando. So please, Wizards, don’t fail me now.

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