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Top Stories of the Week: Wizards get back in the playoff hunt as 2016 comes to an end

Things are still trending up for the team in the nation’s capital!

Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

I hope you’re enjoying quality time with your families and friends in the last week of the current year. We’ll have something to recap the calendar year of course, but for now we are in middle of the current NBA season. So let’s begin our weekly roundup to catch up on anything you may have missed.

Wizards go 2-1, FINALLY get in 8th place in the East

A month ago, we were quite worried that the Wizards would end up being one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference, let along the playoffs. But thanks to a good December, they’re back on their feet!

  • Last Friday, December 23, the Wizards went to Milwaukee and got crushed by the Bucks, 123-96. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a career-high 39 points in the contest. This game was a blowout for sure. But keep in mind that Washington beat Milwaukee not too long ago on December 10 in a close 110-105 affair. It’s not like the Wizards were THAT much worse than the Bucks.
  • On Boxing Day Monday, or the second day of Christmas (depending where you are), the Bucks came back to D.C. The Wizards got revenge with a 107-102 win. Otto Porter scored 32 points and the Wizards overcame some early struggles to pull out the win.
  • And on Wednesday, the Wizards hosted the Pacers and won 111-105. The win was their seventh straight at Verizon Center. John Wall received MVP chants, Porter continued to play in form, but Bradley Beal injured his ankles....

Tonight, the Wizards host the Brooklyn Nets where they will look to finish the calendar year on an eight-game home win streak!

Wizards weren’t happy with Antetokounmpo’s sportsmanship in the Friday blowout

During Monday’s close win against the Bucks, the Wizards played Antetokounmpo quite physically. Markieff Morris most notably shoved him a couple times, including once late in the game when Antetokounmpo fell into the Wizards’ bench.

According to J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic, Wall said that the Wizards wanted to make sure that Monday’s game was not going to be a cakewalk for the Bucks’ rising star. However, Wall also noted that the Wizards felt disrespected in the Friday loss. None of Washington’s starters played in the fourth quarter when they were down 100-78. However, Antetokounmpo was.

“We felt like they whooped us badly but also you’re just up 20 or 30 points, keeping your star player in trying to get his numbers we kind of didn’t like that. We took that personal,” said John Wall, who had 18 points and a season-high 16 assists. “We didn’t have (anything) written on the board. We didn’t say too much. It was a lot more chippie, a lot more trash-talking than it was in the past. As long as we got the win, we’re fine.”

When situations like that happen, you can be sure that the losing team will keep that in mind the next time they meet.

Bradley Beal is injured during the Pacers win on Wednesday

Beal injured his ankles early during Wednesday’s game, tried to come back before halftime, but was ultimately unsuccessful. MRI’s on Thursday came back, which reported that nothing was damaged, but for a player with a history of leg injuries, this is still concerning to say the least.

WindyRindy has more on the implications of what an extended Beal absence could mean. Sheldon McClellan and Tomas Satoransky haven’t proven that they can play valuable minutes this season, so you can expect a significant dropoff when Beal’s not around.

All the positive Wizards team analysis!

The Wizards are 15-16 at the moment, but they also won seven of their last ten games and are now 8th in the Eastern Conference after the win over the Pacers on Wednesday. Sure, they lost that one game to the Bucks on Friday. But otherwise, there’s been more to be happy about than not. Here are some of the takes around the web, from here and elsewhere, on that.

  • Should the Wizards trade for anyone else? Some of our writers got into an interesting discussion about whether the Wizards should trade for anyone by next February.
  • Alan believes one player who the Wizards trade for shouldn’t be on the list. The man’s name? DeMarcus Cousins.
  • With Washington’s resurgence in December, Kyle states that the Wizards will make the playoffs after all.
  • Steve Buckhantz, the Wizards’ play-by-play TV announcer was on WJFK’s Sports Junkies morning show on Thursday. He said that improved defense and bench play have been critical toward their comeback.
  • Otto Porter has been getting a lot of love from Wizards fans lately because of his efficient and effective play. Pacers forward Paul George gave him some compliments after Wednesday’s win. Ben Mehic of Wiz of Awes has more.
  • Otto Porter’s performance wouldn’t be possible if some guy from the area actually signed a deal here. If you haven’t gotten over that player, please do. Giuseppe Kennedy tells why here.
  • NBA All-Star Game voting has started. Unlike past years, the fan vote won’t completely decide the starting lineups. Media and players will also be involved. I wrote about this a few days before Christmas. Adam Rubin of Truth About It adds on to that point, saying that this system could help Wall more than hurt him.

Checking in with the Mystics before free agency

  • Mystics fans haven’t had much to celebrate about over the past 19 years. One of the primary reasons is because they haven’t had much superstar talent. It’s early, but Elena Delle Donne wanting out of the Chicago Sky to (possibly) force a trade to the Washington Mystics? That’s a Christmas gift in and of itself. Elle has more.
  • I took a more detailed look at how players are doing overseas this winter. Of all the players on the roster, Tayler Hill is having the best winter so far where she is leading her Israeli-based team to a lot of wins, and scoring more efficiently than she ever has in Washington so far.

And more Wizards stuff

  • The Wizards don’t have too many national television games this season. Their January 11 game against the Celtics was taken off ESPN’s schedule in favor of the Grizzlies vs. the Thunder. Wall spoke about this at length with Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.
  • Wall credits the D.C. area fans for the seven home game win streak. Over the month of December, crowds have also been more supportive, and they give a “sense of urgency,” according to the man himself. Scott Allen of The Washington Post has more.

So, that’s all from me in this last week of 2016. Hopefully, we’ll beat the Nets tonight as we get ready to ring in 2017!