Eight games left to play. If there's one theme I'd like to see play out over the home stretch, it's 'Furious Discipline'. Randy Wittman commented about staying on top of Kevin Seraphin to keep him hungry, but it's a notion that should hold true for the Wizards as a unit. We know one face of this issue right now as 'the Wizards can't handle prosperity', so let's take a look at another.
My master was fond of saying that your worst day in class is your best day sparring and your worst day sparring is your best day on the street. Complicated physical concepts must be learned, applied, then forgotten and made reflex. Playing as a team at the NBA level involves all of those steps, and some would say that after you've gone through it and learned where you are supposed to be, you've got to go through it again and learn where everyone else is supposed to be. You can walk through the most complicated concepts over and over again in a controlled setting, but one runthrough in real time can make it feel like you're starting from square one.
When you nail a complicated sequence for the first time, for a whole quarter, what-have-you, it's exhilarating. There is a tremendous sense of catharsis with attendent adrenaline crash that can leave you disproportionately exhausted. Teaching my own students, everyone gets a moment when that happens while I offer a big smile and my congratulations. Then I inform them that this is the perfect time to do it again. And again, with increasing levels of difficulty. With two days of rest coming off a freshly minted winning streak, here's hoping Randy Wittman has been preaching something similar.
So what's that going to look like? The most rudimentary eye test criteria is the old maxim of attacking on defense and resting on offense. It's difficult to hold an edge when so much of your cutting power comes from emotion-fueled discipline as opposed to experience and familiarity. The next eight games won't cement all the right habits, but they can set the tone for training camp as a reminder of the kind of furious discipline it takes to earn success in the NBA.
Individually, I want to see Jan Vesely taking open shots and Jordan Crawford attacking the basket. I want to see John Wall cutting off the ball and throwing himself at his opposite number. I have always disliked the Knicks...and if Iman Shumpert kills us...dire consequences. Of course, who knows what the Knicks will do with their backcourt the way it is, but I digress. Hell, I'd like more a lot more cutting off the ball with Shelvin Mack on the floor. The guy often looks indecisive, but I'm betting if cutting bodies start filling the passing lanes we'll see a little more of what we want out of our backup of the future. Chris Singleton taking on a good piece of that responsibility could kill two birds with one stone.
To Kevin Seraphin, Nene Hilario, Cartier Martin, Money Ma$e and Big Game James Singleton: keep doing work. When you're on the wrong side of the talent/skill/savvy scales you have to be perfect in your execution. The novelty of winning that battle wears off but the next back-to-back is on the way. I almost like that better...if the Wizards always play like the next back-to-back is only a day away, like they don't know when their next break is coming and what shape they'll be in it finally arrives and confront that uncertainty with furious discipline and execution over the final eight games...well, that's be the narrative fans have been waiting for.