Hint: It's not the playoffs.
We are atavistic creatures, at heart. There are moments when some superstitious sense tells us to be aware of something our logical mind rejects out of hand. If you haven't seen the most recent Hangout, watch it here. One of the questions Mike asked dealt with the value of the first win. Since I didn't have the opportunity to make it, I wanted to answer it here.
Once the logical mind comes to grips with the fact that the atavistic instinct is insisting the team "can't-win" because "look at the evidence," the two are at war and a constant distraction for whatever person is having those thoughts. As the Wizards surrendered fourth quarter lead after fourth quarter lead, the overtime losses, the possibility of the team playing defeated with time left on the game clock became more and more palpable. In one way, giving up that 15-point lead against the Portland Trail Blazers may have been a good thing.
That way certainly isn't fourth quarter defense or the deployment of the brand new six minute scoreless offense, but simply that it followed the familiar pattern of giving the game up late and the Wizards pulled it out. Sure, that wasn't pretty. It never should have gotten to the 0.5 second mark, the Wizards shouldn't have turned it over and it sure didn't look like the Trail Blazers called a timeout with three-tenths of a second left. But the little things going against them was also a part of the pattern.
The value of that win is the logical mind getting some evidence against the atavistic impulse to believe in curses ("here we go again..."). It's evidence the dice rolls the other way too if maximum effort is applied. It's a chance to focus on the game rather than the goose egg. The value of the first win is that the team knows enough can go right and 'enough going right to win' is what it takes for the players to generate enough faith in the coach, their team and themselves to gut those fourth quarters out like professional basketball players, which is all we, as fans, can ask.