All 29 NBA teams played each of their respective home openers. Tonight, the Wizards will finally suit up for the home fans, being the last NBA team to open the season at home and it doesn’t come at a better time.
The Wizards have yet to taste a victory this season, starting the year 0-2 with tough losses in Atlanta and Memphis. For some, that could be enough to trigger panic mode in the Nation’s Capital, right? Not necessarily. The Wizards are one of five teams that have yet to earn a W, but the other four teams have worse records because they’ve played more games: the Mavericks (0-3), Pelicans (0-4), Suns (0-4), and the 76ers (0-3). It’s quite surprising. The Mavericks are perennial playoff team; the Pelicans boast Anthony Davis, and while the Sixers haven’t won a game yet, they’re a young team on the come-up that should be good in the next couple of years. Their talented youth was evident in a near-upset of Russell Westbrook and the Thunder.
Now let’s take a quick look at last year (even though we all want to forget). Expectations were flying sky high for the Wizards, who were coming off of two straight Eastern Conference semifinal appearances and looking ready to take the next step. They opened with a thrilling win in Orlando thanks to a a clutch shot by John Wall with 12 seconds left. They followed that with a win in Milwaukee. Though they lost their home opener to the Knicks, they won their fourth game of the season (and second at home) in exciting fashion with a game-winning three by Bradley Beal over the Spurs. Yes, the SPURS, a team the Wizards couldn’t beat at home (or anywhere) in a very long time. We all know what happened after that and, no, we will not revisit any of it.
It’s time to set the tone. Tonight the Wizards welcome a familiar foe, the Toronto Raptors. With the cockiness they showed back when the Wizards faced them in the 2014 playoffs, DC countered using their swagger anchored by Paul Pierce to sweep them. I’ll also remind you that many experts picked against the Wizards so the sweep was a surprise to most of the basketball world. While The Truth is no longer in DC, if the Wizards can treat this like a playoff game and play good 48-minute basketball they’ll finally get a win. The Wizards have beaten Toronto this year; they trounced them 119-82 in their preseason finale. Now they can beat them for real.
How does Marcin Gortat feel about tonight’s home opener?
Marcin Gortat: "It's a must win. We can't dig a hole and start the season 0-3. No one wants to do that."
— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) October 31, 2016
If you’re lucky enough to have tickets, come out in full force and get behind them. We all love it when the Wizards beat the Raptors.
Despite the Wizards being 0-2, there’s no need to panic. We all want this year to be the opposite of last year and it still can be! Shaun Ahmad talked about how the Redskins were 0-2 and the town, including some of us, went into full panic mode. Then they won four straight.
The spotlight’s on you, Wizards, and welcome back to DC, Raptors.