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The Wizards’ third quarters say a lot about how they’ve performed this season

NBA: Washington Wizards at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Call me Mr. Overly Optimistic. Call me Mr. Glass Hopelessly Half Full. Call me Mr. Forest Gump for all I care, but let me tell you about the third quarter and how it could be the answer to the static in Phone Booth Nation... Jenny.

Let us start with some numbers about this sticky third quarter. When the Wizards win, they outscore their opponents by an average +3.19 points in the third quarter; conversely when the Wizards lose, they get outscored by an average -4.06 points in the third. When the Wizards win, they have a +51 overall point differential in the third; comparatively, when they lose, they have a -73 overall point differential in the third.

Let’s continue with these numbers. In the first 17 games of the season the Wizards went a measly 6-11 and had a -18 point differential in the third. Over the last 17 games, when they went 10-7, the Wizards were a +4 in the third; if you omit the past two losses in Texas, the Wizards are actually +29 in the third.

Spend ten minutes on Bullets Forever and you’ll find that the Wizards have a lot of problems, but when do random statistics about a single pesky quarter start to become a trend? I’ve made my conclusion and I’m beginning to wonder what snacks are available to the players during halftime. Is the halftime plate spinning show putting the team to sleep? I’ll spring for some locally made cold brew coffee from Confluence Coffee Co. to ensure we win the darned third quarter.

Sure it can be argued that the bulk of the minutes in the third come from the starting five, hence the positive point differential in wins. Spiky Hair Smith then checks in and proceeds to get us into that fourth quarter hole that has been so hard to climb out of. Nevertheless, these third quarter trends further reinforce the fact that our starting core is not that far off from what we thought they were coming into the season. In fact, if the Wiz sustained that +3.19 differential throughout the game, that would be the 8th highest in the league, only behind the Cavs and Raptors in the East (kind of the position we had anticipated).

The Wizards’ 16-18 record is good for 16th best winning percentage in the league. Their overall point differential is good for 17th in the league, while their overall 105.2 points per game puts them at 14th in the league. Point being, the up and down Wizards aren’t that far off from clawing out of the dreaded .500 dog fight and legitimately earning that third spot in the East.

A lot of things could help win more games in Chinatown, maybe we can start by laying off the Chick-Fil-A during halftime.