Wednesday night’s cringeworthy win over a 9-44 Brooklyn team has helped quell the stinging sensation that has been nagging every Wiz fan since Monday’s heartbreaking loss to the Cavaliers.
We’re talking the type of sting that comes from having a game stolen from your grasp after John Wall said it was the biggest regular season game of his career. The type of sting that comes from outplaying an opponent but being denied of a rightful win and having an impressive home win streak broken. The type of sting that makes you throw out bold predictions claiming the Wizards would win a seven game series against the Cavaliers. Wait, was that too bold?
Sure, the Wiz are 15-3 since early January, but twelve of those opponents have losing records. Of those eighteen games, 13 of them have been Eastern Conference match-ups. Also, they’ve enjoyed ten games at home versus eight on the road, which has contributed to the impressive Phone Booth winning streak.
Having admitted all that, the Wizards were robbed Monday night and the Cavs should be frightened by the thought of an Eastern Conference playoff showdown.
Where do I even start here? Oh wait, how about the twirl-around, Hail Mary of a prayer by LeBron to force overtime? Enough said, the game was over and won; sometimes luck falls into the hands of a fool.
I’ll try to move on from the severe pain in my head recalling the shot that shall no longer be mentioned and offer point number two: The Cavs shot an unsustainable level from the field. In a seven game series, it’s almost impossible for even a great shooter like Kevin Love to sustain the 64 percent he shot on Monday, including the 6 for 10 he shot from deep. Overall, the Cavs shot 53 percent from the field with a top-heavy 83 percent of their points coming from four of their starters.
Iman Shumpert, the fifth starter that acts as their lockdown defender, was tasked with shutting down Bradley Beal. Beal finished the game with 41 points, the second-highest total in his career.
To be fair, Shumpert left the game late in the third with an ankle injury after this play:
However, it’s worth noting Beal already had 24 points on 16 shots before Shumpert got hurt.
Now, let’s talk about both teams’ benches. Despite Washington’s recent success, the bench is still bad. Let’s not forget the incredibly dark stats that were being thrown around two months ago when the bench was being heralded as one of the worst in NBA history. But in a playoff series against the Cavs, are we really going to have to worry about getting torched by the likes of DeAndre Liggins, Jordan McRae or Kay Felder? No joke, those are the names of three players on the bench of the NBA defending champions.
For context, let’s watch the 5’9 Kay Felder get denied by the terrifying rim defender...Jason Smith:
Kyle Korver had a strong game off the bench and the team was missing J.R. Smith. But having said that, is it crazy to think that the top seven or eight for the Wiz are comparable with Cleveland’s top seven or eight? Washington has shown in previous playoff runs that they match up better with top-tier teams when they can go to shorter rotations, and that was before Scott Brooks arrived to work his magic on the roster.
It’s easy to criticize the King, here referring to both LeBron and the defending champs as a whole. They’ve been here before, understand how to grind through a season and rely on a little luck, which is how they won Monday night. The beauty of a seven game series is that luck is neutralized and the quality of the team usually prevails.
Bold prediction after a stinging defeat: Wiz in six.