"You don't know how a team is mentally until they're doing extremely bad," Miami Heat's Chris Bosh said following a December loss to the Washington Wizards. "That's when you find things out. They probably won't find that about themselves until the playoffs, when they're down [and] see if they can recover."
Welp, now is that time for the Wizards.
The Washington Wizards haven't led a game by more than eight points over the last four games AND have trailed by double digits in all four of those games. They're on a three game losing streak and struggling quite a bit.
Just like in most aspects of life, you learn the most about yourself when you are down in the dumps. How you rise above adversity is more important then how you do when you are winning, coasting. There's always room for improvement, always room to challenge yourself to be better.
Are the Wizards ready to for this stage in their 2014-15 season life? We'll find out tonight when they take on the Atlanta Hawks on the road.
When and where? 7:30 p.m. EST from Philips Arena in Atlanta. Catch it on CSN Washington.
Who's out? John Wall, Nene, DeJuan Blair and Kevin Seraphin are all day to day with various injuries or illnesses for the Wizards. Shelvin Mack and Thabo Sefolosha are out for the Hawks
Are they good? Yo, I can't believe I have to answer this question. The Hawks are 40-9. They average 103.3 points per game (6th in the NBA) and allow just 96.5 from their opponents (3rd in the NBA). They've lost just three games at home and are just off of a 19-game winning streak that included beating five other Eastern Conference teams with winning records and going undefeated on the road. Not to mention, they average 25.9 assists per game, which is second best in the league. Oh, they also have three All-Stars.
Panic Time? Depends on who you ask, but yes, the Washington Wizards are in a bit of trouble. Sure, they are 31-18 and remain in third place in the Eastern Conference, but they're on a three game losing streak and are 4-6 in their last 10 games. They are 13-10 on the road (that ain't gonna win you playoff series) and a mere 5-4 against the Southeast Division. The last time they lost four in a row [insert thumbs down emoji here] was Dec. 6-14, 2013. In fact, 2015 just hasn't been a good year for the squad ... They're 9-9.
Relive the past? The last time the Wizards were in Atlanta was Jan.11 and they got destroyed, 120-89. Their worst loss of the season (thus far) and their first loss by at least 30 points since December 2012. Washington turned the ball over 20 times (20!!!) which lead to 31 points, helping them to fall to 1-12 in their last 13 road games vs the Hawks. The Wizards also lost to the Hawks, 106-102 in November (at home) but that was so long ago that it doesn't matter and I'm moving on from the past ok bye.
Teague vs. Wall? Teague may not be leading the Hawks in points like Wall is for the Wizards, but he is certainly creating beautiful offense for the team nonetheless. The matchup between the two points guards will be interesting as always, regardless of the past games. The two All Stars are leading their respective teams in assists, which will end up being crucial to tonight's game.
In two games vs Washington this season, Teague averaged 19.5 points and 6.5 assists, shooting just 38.7 percent from the field. Teague's past 10 games have been rather "meh" by his standards, shooting just 39.3 percent and averaging 14.6 points (compared to his season averages of 46.2 percent and 16.8 points, respectively).
Wall, against Atlanta this season, averages 18 points (on 46.2 percent shooting) and 10.5 assists - a notch better than his season averages of 17.4 points and 10.2 assists. Sure, he missed 10 of 14 shots against Charlotte on Monday, but he's actually been playing well the past 10 games, shooting 44.4 percent and averaging 17.3 points, 10.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game. We all know he's nursing some injuries, but he's gutting them out - which is encouraging. Having your superstar player - not to mention superstar leader - play tough during tough times defines your team. Let's hope Wall keeps it up.
Who wins? I am 0 for every-prediction-I've-ever-made-about-the-Wizards. As I always say, "Hope for the best, but expect the worst" - yes, this motto really works in life. I hope and pray and hope and pray that if the Wizards do not win tonight (man, handing the Hawks two losses in a row would be super sweet, wouldn't it?!), they show some heart and put up a fight.