This Saturday, the Wizards will host Polish Heritage Night when they host the Brooklyn Nets. The Polish Embassy in Washington has a link for you to buy tickets. The tickets allow you to watch players warm up between 5 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. And after the game, Gortat will host a meet and greet.
To commemorate, we will host a series of pieces around Marcin Gortat, Poland, Polish culture and the Polish diaspora. Today is Monday, so let’s focus on Gortat’s time as a Wizard. What were his best moments in Monumental Red since he was acquired in 2013?
Here are my Top 5 moments!
#5: Gortat’s 27 point, 16 rebound, and 4 block performance on December 21, 2015 vs. the Kings
The Wizards had a disappointing 2015-16 season as they struggled to get to a 41-41 regular season and miss the playoffs. But right before Christmas, Gortat started off with an 11 of 12 shooting performance and finished with 27 points overall in a 113-99 win over Sacramento
What’s even more notable was that Gortat also stepped up big time while matched up against then-Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. I get that many people seem to view Gortat as “just another expendable piece.” Well, let’s just say that the Polish Machine definitely hears the haters.
#4. A perfect shooting performance vs. the Timberwolves on January 6, 2017
In the 2016-17 NBA season, the Wizards won their first division title since 1979 and went to the second round of the playoffs. Though John Wall and Bradley Beal got the bulk of the praise from last season, let’s not forget about the consistency Gortat provided all season long.
Gortat averaged a double double (10.8 ppg, 10.4 rebounds) last season and made a career-high 57.9 percent of his shots. Just over a year ago, he also shot a perfect 9 of 9 from the field for a 19 point and 10 rebound performance against the Timberwolves.
#3: Gortat averaged 17.3 points and 10 rebounds a game in the Wizards’ first round playoff sweep over the Raptors in 2015
One of Jake Whitacre’s favorite crutches in the name of Wizards fandom is Washington’s playoff sweep over the Raptors in 2015.
When NBA media starts hyping up the Raptors pic.twitter.com/HcnGNpxGx7— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) January 6, 2018
Washington came into the playoff series losing three of their last four regular season games. They were even swept by Toronto 3-0 in the 2014-15 regular season.
But in the playoffs, Washington dominated. Gortat averaged a double double in the series and even shot 74.4 percent from the field in the series. In Game 4, he shot 8 of 9 from the field for 21 total points, while adding 11 rebounds and dishing 5 assists in just 29 minutes. You can watch highlights of that game above.
Gortat also scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in Game 3, but it took him 42 minutes to pull it off. So ... I’ll say that Game 4 was the best showing I saw from him in that playoff series.
#2: Gortat scored a career high 31 points, 12 rebounds vs. the Raptors on February 27, 2014
One of the Wizards’ pivotal games of the 2013-14 season was also against the Raptors when they won 134-129 in a triple overtime thriller where Gortat scored the game tying basket before the end of regulation.
Yes, John Wall rescued the Wizards in the third overtime, but this win wasn’t possible without Gortat’s career high 31 points in that game.
#1: Gortat scored another 31 points and grabbed 16 rebounds vs. the Pacers in Round 2, Game 5 of 2014 NBA Playoffs
It took Gortat 51 minutes on the floor to score 31 points against the Raptors in 2014 in a triple overtime game. But it only took him 36 to do it in a game when the Wizards were on the brink against the Pacers.
The Wizards were never expected to beat the Pacers in a seven game second round playoff series. In fact, they lost all three home games in that series. That said, the Wizards were literally road warriors in the playoffs as they won 4 out of their 5 games outside of the building now known as Capital One Arena.
In Game 5 against the Pacers, Gortat matched his regular season career high of 31 points and did it on 13 of 15 shooting. He also grabbed 16 rebounds in a dominating performance that I believe was the best single game performance of his NBA career to date.