TGiF everyone! If you've been as busy as I have this week, it can be a bit tough to find out what's been going on with the Wizards . Don't worry though, we've got you covered with our top stories over this past few days. Let's review:
1. The Wizards made the playoffs for the second straight year!
On Monday, the Boston Celtics defeated the Charlotte Hornets 116-104, which allowed the Wizards to clinch their second consecutive playoff berth despite a 99-91 loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday.
I would have rather seen the Wizards clinch a playoff berth with a win rather than because another team lost. But at the same time, we all knew that this team was making the postseason for quite some time.
2. The Wizards will probably play the Raptors or Bulls in the first round of the playoffs
Here are the Eastern Conference Standings as of April 3, 2015 for all teams that a mathematical chance at the playoffs:
Washington is currently fifth place, and they'll remain there whether they win or lose tonight against the lowly New York Knicks. But if they want to sneak into that 4th seed, they'll have to win and hope that the Bulls lose to the Pistons tonight. The Raptors also have a game tonight, where they travel on the road to face the Brooklyn Nets.
Though Toronto hasn't been particularly hot since the All-Star Break, I want to see the Bulls once again in the first round. The matchups in a possible Wizards vs. Bulls series will be more favorable than the Raptors, who have swept the Wizards this season.
I get that Derrick Rose is likely going to return soon. After all, he had his third contact practice this week as he recovers from a right meniscus tear. But as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune ereported on Thursday, Rose will be limited. Yes, the Bulls are better with Rose than without him, but John Wall should have the upper hand on him in the point guard matchup.
3. Despite their win against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, the locker room isn't particularly cheery
The Wizards have been slumping since around the All-Star Break. Naturally, that is going to make some players a bit testier than normal. Of the entire team, Marcin Gortat, Polish Heritage Night aside, has been noticeably less talkative after games. Whether it was a disagreement with Paul Pierce regarding the defense after last February's loss to the Cavaliers or not playing much in the fourth quarters of games after strong performances, it is clear that Gortat isn't particularly pleased with something or someone.
Gortat's brief comments with the media haven't been brief solely after losses. Even after their 106-93 #WIZ50 win against the Philadelphia 76ers, Gortat gave short answers to the media postgame despite a stellar performance where he scored 23 points and 14 rebounds. Nick has been doing excellent work for us covering games on the ground and has noticed this trend first hand, so check out his piece here.
If there's anyone who needs more minutes, it's Otto Porter. The sophomore forward scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds in Sunday's loss to the Rockets in just 18 minutes. He followed that up by scoring 15 points once again during Wednesday's win over Philly. Porter also has been a more effective option at the wing than Rasual Butler or Martell Webster, yet he still struggles to find sufficient playing time. Jake has an excellent four-point breakdown from last Monday.
In addition, I encourage you to check out Wiz of Awes Editor Ben Mehic's feature on why Porter's development is more important than their possibility of landing Kevin Durant in free agency next summer. Yes, Wizards fans want Durant because he was last year's MVP, and he's a hometown kid. But there's no guarantee that he's coming here, and he went through three right foot surgeries this season. Yikes! But we'll cross that bridge when we get there.
Either way, it's in Washington's best interest to develop Otto and see what he can do alongside the House of Guards.
5. Wizards players take part in the Special Olympics D.C.'s Unified Game as coaches and referees
The Wizards took part in the Special Olympics D.C.'s Unified Game on Thursday. Garrett Temple and Otto Porter coached one team while Marcin Gortat and Ramon Sessions coached the other. John Wall and Washington Mystics guard/forward Tierra Ruffin-Pratt were the referees.
You can also check out some of the Vines below from the Wizards' Twitter account:
Coach @MGortat getting his team ready #WizCares #RWord #SpecialOlympicsDC https://t.co/mZelO92bwW— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) April 2, 2015
Ref @JohnWall hearing it from both benches, now @GTemp14 getting into it #SpecialOlympicsDC #WizCares #RWord https://t.co/a13hYSXrWv— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) April 2, 2015
#Sportsmanship #SpecialOlympicsDC #WizCares #RWord https://t.co/74s6C0zTA4— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) April 2, 2015