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The dynamic at the Verizon Center is changing for the better

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NBA: Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the team’s unexpected success this season, the Wizards are still among the worst teams in the NBA when it comes to attendance. They’ve averaged 16,075 fans per game this season, ranking them 23rd-best in the league. The numbers get worse when you consider that the Verizon Center has one of largest seating capacities in the NBA. Washington ranks 27th in terms of how much of the arena is filled each night. The only teams that have done a worse job of filling their arenas are the Timberwolves, Nuggets, and Pistons, who are all below .500 this season.

After a game at home with a very vocal Lakers contingent, Bradley Beal expressed some displeasure with the lack of support. “I’m sick of that, too,” Beal said. “That’s terrible. I feel like we were on the road today.”

Recently, however, things have begun to change. 19,651 fans showed up on February 4th on Polish Heritage Night to watch the Wizards take on the middling Pelicans. Bradley Beal said after the game it was the best crowd of the season to date. Washington followed that up with a raucous, sellout crowd for last Monday’s game against the Cavaliers, where fans were treated to arguably the best game of the NBA season. Even though the Wizards lost that game in heart-breaking fashion, another strong crowd of 19,503 fans turned up for Friday’s game against the Pacers.

Certainly, it helps that high-profile stars like Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Paul George have come through D.C. in recent weeks, and it also probably helps that their games against the Cavs and Pacers were featured on national television. Still, it’s clear people aren't just coming out to see whichever visiting star is in town. Crowds are showing up to watch the Wizards, and they’re making their voices heard.

The only unfortunate news is that the Wizards only have 10 home games left after the All-Star break. Washington has done a great job drumming up support at home to help fuel their long, home winning streak and force their way into the discussion for homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Now, the questions is can the Wizards keep fans engaged as their schedule gets very road-heavy over the next two months? If so, fans and players alike could be rewarded with some very exciting basketball this spring.