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Top Stories of the Week: The Wizards are finally division champions!

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NBA: Washington Wizards at Los Angeles Lakers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The weather’s getting warmer now that we’re officially in spring though the last few days have been washouts. And now that we’re in April, there are less than 10 games left in the season. All that’s left is playoff positioning. So let’s take a look at that and more in this week’s top storylines:

The Wizards win the Southeast Division after kicking off another long road trip

NBA: Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Wizards started out the last seven days with a 129-108 win over the Nets last Friday at home before kicking off another five game road trip.

After the win against Brooklyn, there wasn’t much time rest as they headed off to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers the next day. After two home losses earlier this season, they came out with a 127-115 win last Saturday.

From there, the Wizards flew to Los Angeles for a back to back at Staples Center. On Tuesday, they faced the Lakers and won 119-108. It was the win that helped them clinch the Southeast Division, and their first division title since 1979. The next day, Washington lost to the Clippers, 133-124, despite John Wall scoring 41 points.

On Friday, they lost to the Jazz, 95-88. The Wizards are now 46-30 in a dead heat with the Raptors, but they would get the 4th seed if the Playoffs started today. No worries though. There’s still six games, and plenty of opportunities to see Washington make a push for a higher seed, and a 50 win regular season.

The Mystics were in the United Arab Emirates this past week

Monumental Sports’ official airliner is Emirati headquartered Etihad Airways. But to this point, we haven’t seen too many sports related initiatives between Monumental and the UAE.

That changed as Mystics GM/Head Coach Mike Thibault, Assistant Coach Eric Thibault, Ivory Latta, and Krystal Thomas hosted clinics from March 24-26 in Abu Dhabi, the Emirati capital, and Dubai, the largest city. A highlight video can be seen below or by clicking here:

Washington Mystics in Dubai

"The atmosphere was great. For sure I'm coming back" - Ivory Latta 12 Young Basketball enthusiasts in the UAE got to train with very best from the Washington Mystics, with the likes of Head Coach Mike Thibault , three-time WNBA Coach of the Year, and players Ivory Latta and Krystal Thomas. ESM was proud to be a partner of this amazing camp and we'd love to welcome you back to the UAE.

Posted by ESM East Sport Management on Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Kelly Cohen was a guest on “The O’Reilly Factor” last Wednesday

It isn’t often when one of the fellow writers on this very site gets on national television, let alone the most viewed cable news program in America. Therefore, I feel obligated to give a shout out.

Kelly Cohen, who contributes here, is also a criminal justice reporter for The Washington Examiner. She was a featured guest on Fox News journalist Bill O’Reilly’s show, “The O’Reilly Factor” last Wednesday. In the segment she was in, Kelly talked about a meeting “sanctuary city” mayors had with Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

So, congratulations to Kelly for being on the show, and going toe to toe with one of the biggest personalities in cable news.

Our news and analysis

Cleveland Cavaliers v Washington Wizards Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

We had no shortage of pieces this past week as the Wizards closed the deal with the Southeast Division:

  • When the Wizards play their home games this postseason, they will be wearing the Stars and Stripes alternate jerseys (above), not their 1970’s inspired home whites. I like the clean look of the jerseys, and some fans hope that these jerseys are their permanent home jerseys going forward. I disagree because their regular home jerseys look sharp in their own right, but I digress.
  • The Wizards will be no lower than the 4th seed in the Playoffs this season. But don’t simply assume that they’ll walk to the second round because the teams they face are still dangerous in their own right ... especially the Miami Heat.
  • Jason Smith started this season playing worse with John Wall than without him. But things have changed where he’s become the ultimate midrange shooter. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
  • Ben Becker and Kevin Broom talked about whether 50 wins is realistic in their latest podcast.
  • In Jake Whitacre’s and Ben Standig’s “Best Wizards Shooter” contest, Standig went with Phil Chenier as the best Wizards shooter in franchise history, ahead of Bradley Beal. In the fan vote, Gilbert Arenas won over Beal. I wouldn’t feel bad about Beal not being called “the best shooter ever” right now, but expect that to change in the next year or two.

And more links!

Washington Wizards v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Here’s a roundup of some other pieces outside the web.

  • Kevin Broom chatted with Keith Allison of The Washington City Paper where they talked about “The Scott Brooks Effect.” What nuances is he bringing to the table this year that Randy Wittman just wasn’t?
  • Chris Thompson of Deadspin writes that John Wall’s season is historically incredible. He’s one of the most prolific scorers and passes in the NBA. He is also a point guard who has managed to become a decent shot blocker as well. There aren’t many guards averaging 20 ppg, 10 apg, and 0.6 bpg. But thanks to Russell Westbrook’s triple double average, as well as James Harden’s and Isaiah Thomas’ ridiculous stat lines, Wall isn’t in the MVP conversation. The TL;dr from this piece? Let’s not forget what Wall’s doing.
  • Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post wrote about the Wizards being part of a Conan O’Brien show sketch. It doesn’t happen often, so I’ll take it!
  • Coach Nick of BBall Breakdown interviewed Wall on how former NBA star Steve Nash influenced him. He also interviewed Kelly Oubre Jr. on his role change in D.C.
  • Staying on the topic of Oubre, he was at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts last week where he listened to students’ performances and even played some guitar as well. Candace Buckner of The Washington Post has more.
  • Mystics Assistant Eric Thibault was on the Wizards official podcast where he talked about their aforementioned UAE trip, as well as some other topics, like women coaching men. That could be relevant to the Wizards sooner rather than later since two women (Becky Hammon for the Spurs, Nancy Lieberman for the Kings) are assistants on NBA teams. Commissioner Adam Silver also wants to see a woman be an NBA head coach sooner rather than later. Something else to note on this topic: Hammon turned down an offer to be Florida’s women’s basketball head coach earlier this month, so there could be legs to that.
  • And finally, our own Kevin Parrish wrote a column that the Wizards’ best chance of beating the Cavaliers in the playoffs is this season.

And that’s the list of headlines from me. If you have another link you’d like to share, feel free to do so in the comments or as a FanPost. It’s not an April Fool’s Joke.

Enjoy the weekend everyone!