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Top Stories of the Week: The Wizards make the second round of the playoffs

NBA: Playoffs-Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Hope everyone’s doing well on this last weekend in April. There’s one major storyline on our minds, so let’s get right to it:

Wizards make the second round of the playoffs!

In the John Wall Era of the Wizards franchise, we haven’t seen Washington play a team more than once in any of the three seasons when he played in the postseason. That changed this year when the Wizards faced the Hawks in the first round.

Last week in Top Stories, the Wizards held a 2-0 lead over Atlanta. And in the last week, Washington finally won the series, 4 games to 2 where they’ll face the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics in the second round. Game 1’s on Sunday at 1 p.m.! When the Wizards face the Celtics, they may have to deal with some cold showers. Brandon Jennings thinks they are rigged.

So how did the Wizards get to this point?

Last Saturday, the Wizards played the Hawks in Atlanta for Game 3 of their playoff series. Washington lost 116-98. Ouch. Then in Game 4, the Wizards lost again, 111-101.

That certainly raised the stakes last Wednesday for Game 5. Washington won 103-99, despite falling behind early. Then, this happened:

That’s right, former U.S. President Joe Biden sat courtside at Verizon Center and “indirectly” inspired the Wizards to eke out a close victory. That set up a physical game 6 when John Wall scored 42 points to lead the Wizards to a 115-99 blowout over the Hawks that was a bit closer than the final margin was.

This series was a solid performance by Washington, but they weren’t good at keeping Atlanta out of the paint. Ben Becker and Kevin Broom also talked about several keeys to what Washington had to do to make the second round.

More highlights around the series, the Wizards, and more

  • John Wall made a lot of dunks in this series. This dunk on Mike Muscala in Game 5 was probably the best one he did so far, because the ball bounced off Muscala’s face. SB Nation’s Tom Ziller also added why Muscala was a hero. For poster dunks to be posters, you still need someone to defend the rim. I’d give him credit for defending of course, but Wall was just a bit too quick.
  • Wall’s also a fan of capes. He certainly put a figurative one on for Game 6.
  • In Game 6, the Hawks engaged in some physical play early on. Dwight Howard elbowed Jason Smith. A couple of minutes later, Kent Bazemore fouled Bradley Beal during a dunk attempt.
  • After Game 6 ended, Phil Chenier said his goodbye as the Wizards’ TV color analyst.
  • I wrote about this last week, but Dennis Schroder reached out to Wall about working out together this summer. I felt that the timing was a bit off since there was a series going on at that time. Wall also felt the same way:
  • Though the Wizards won the series, they still have non-believers among the national media. Scott Allen of The Washington Post wrote about TNT analyst (and one-time) Wizard Chris Webber believing that the Hawks would defeat the Wizards in the playoff series last Monday when they played poorly in Game 4.
  • ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has become a bit more of a Wizards fan this season, but he was also “disgusted” by the performance in part because Wall and Beal received limitied help for much of the series.
  • Noah Goetzel of WizardsXtra talked to Candance Buckner of The Washington Post about Wall laughing off her critique of his defense on Twitter after the Game 4 loss. Other Wizards teammates came to Wall's defense. She cleared the air in this one on one.
  • Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated chronicles John Wall’s current NBA season, dating back to the time when Wall first met Scott Brooks after he was hired. The improvement Wall showed the first year that we got to see “the Real John Wall” do his thing in the league.
  • Bradley Beal wrote a piece on The Player’s Tribune where he wrote about the most important coach in his life. Mom. Beal’s mom was a basketball coach and taught him how to do one of the things he knows best: shoot with proper form. Thanks Mama Beal for what you do!

Alright, these links only scratch the surface on what went down last week for the Wizards. If you have another link you’d like to share, feel free to do so in the comments or as a FanPost.

Round 2 is just a day away, so we’ll see you tomorrow when the Wizards take care of business against another rival team.