Unlike most of the teams left in NBA Playoffs, the Washington Wizards received a large amount of praise nationally because they dominated a well coached, defense-oriented and playoff-tested Chicago Bulls team. While most of the national media, at least from ESPN projected the Bulls to win the series, the Wizards won in five, taking three of their four games on the road and beating the Bulls at their own grind-it-out game strategy.
Heading into the second round, it's not a stretch or even a surprise to see that this team would be favored against either the Pacers or the Hawks. It's also not a surprise that this Wizards team could be the best major D.C. sports team since the 1991 Redskins team, which won the Super Bowl, or the 1997/1998 Capitals team that made the Stanley Cup Finals.
With all of the well-deserved national praise, that also raises expectations for this team. But it is important that the Wizards continue to play with the same intensity and focus that they did in the first round and play like nobody expects them to win. That mentality was something I really liked when I saw John Wall's emotions coming out after their win in Game 2, when he told a fan that the Wizards' win "ain't no luck" and continued to say that they were underdogs as he headed toward the locker room. (And we have a link where you can get an "Ain't No Luck" T-shirt too! Click here to learn how you can get one.)
I don't really care who wins the Hawks or Pacers game on Saturday and whether the Wizards have a better chance of beating either team in a seven-game series. To me, it's more important to see the Wizards come out playing, not only with the intensity that they had in the first round, but also the chip on their shoulder and the underdog mentality they had this entire season.
Given how well this team has come together at the right time, I don't think we will have problems seeing that they will continue to play this way in the second round.