While we are all still reeling from an amazing victory that no one saw coming let’s take a second to break down the Wizards win over the Bulls.
First things first in a previous post I outlined a couple important factors to any success in the playoffs, namely 3pt shooting, free throw shooting, ball protection and the play of the Wizards most important players.
If you would have told me 5 minutes before the game that Wall and Bradley would combine for 7-25 from the field, 0-3 from 3pt land I would have anticipated a double digit loss to a team that just about every “expert” predicted to blow out Washington.
Instead what we got was a brilliant effort from Nene who provided 24 points on an efficient 11-17 from the field, 8 rebounds and 3 assists that do not do credence to his ability to find open men.
What we also got was a steady performance from Ariza whose timely three point shots and stellar defense helped get the Wizards back in the game when they were at one point down by 13 points.
Washington was able to put up 100 points on a Bulls team that would rather play their brand of basketball, a tortoise pace that would absolutely destroy the Wizards ability to do what they would need to do to win.
While the 3pt shooting as a whole was nothing to write home about, Washington’s ability to convert on free throws, where during the season the team ranked 25th in the league was a huge reason why they were able to close this game out. Washington went to the line 35 times and made 26 but more importantly made all 12 of their fourth-quarter attempts. They were 12-for-19 in the first half. In addition to that, the Wizards ability to protect the ball with only 10 turnovers combined with the other two points added up to a series opening victory.
Now all of the sudden, not only are Wizards fans believing that something magical could come out of this playoff run, the media pundits who for long have destroyed, made fun of and mocked this franchise are starting to come around to.
Is this team ready to make a run into June?
I’m far from ready to declare that.
What is going to happen next and what they proved to us last night is that in a game where neither one of their top two scorers played a great game, they were still able to win. They proved to us and for the first time in a gazillion days to the national media that this isn’t the 80s/90s Bullets.
What I implore Wizards fans to do over the course of the next couple weeks is to stay off the Ernie/Wittman bashing and enjoy what is going on here. It’s been 6 years since a winning basketball franchise has been playing meaningful games in April. It had been 28 years since Washington had won the first game in a series.
Think how much shitty basketball we’ve endured as fans since then. We can all now watch these games with hope, a hope that was being questioned as recently as the last week of the season. The Wizards put together a 48 minute game for the first time in God knows how long and anybody following this team with the amount of attention to detail as we do, Bullets Forever, Truth About It, WizXtra and Wiz of Awes does knows that we learned a lot more about this young team last night than we had through the course of the year.
Good news Wizards fans, this team is ready and while nobody else may believe in what is going on here in DC, for at least one day all of us can cosign with this type of thinking…
Playoffs !! #whynotus
— Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23) April 17, 2014