There was a time when you would watch the young, inexperienced Washington Wizards, and get a laugh or two out of it.
However, the 2014 Wizards are not young, not inexperience and don’t leave you laughing. Don’t believe me, ask the Chicago Bulls.
The Wizards hammered the Bulls, out-hustled them in the short-lived five game series (4-1) and made a mockery of their second ranked defense.
Nene ate Joakim Noah’s lunch on a nightly basis, averaging nearly 18 points and seven rebounds per game. Noah averaged 10 points and 12 rebounds per game in the series and looked like a shell of his regular season self. Bradley Beal averaged 20 points and John Wall 19 points per contest. Trevor Ariza, the team’s playoff veteran, scored 16 points and snagged nine rebounds per game.
The Wizards were clearly the better team, which apparently no one saw coming.
Perhaps they were blinded by the way Chicago ended the season? Chicago went 21-9 after the All-Star break and many anointed them as one of the most dangerous Eastern Conference teams heading into the playoffs.
“No one wants to play the Bulls.”
I mean, a great defense (second ranked), a great coach (Tom Thibodeau) and a gritty playoff history — it makes sense. That’s why everyone saw it, and it’s also the same reason why no one saw the Wizards.
Well, they did but they assumed that they’d be the same ole Wizards.
Instead, they were anything but that. And now that they’ve won their first playoff series since 2005 — ironically against the Bulls — it’s not out of left field to wonder how far they can go.
Next, they’ll be facing off in a second round matchup agains the Indiana Pacers or the Atlanta Hawks. If things go as expected, it’s going to be the Hawks. However, if the Pacers can somehow pull themselves together and recover from a 3-2 series deficit, the Wizards will face the top-seeded enigmas.
Either way, at this point, you have to give the (figuratively) new-look Wizards a puncher’s chance. Perhaps even a great chance.
Washington is going to ride their Wall, Beal and Nene core, along with a little Marcin Gortat and Ariza mixture, as long as they can, and so far it’s paying off. The fact that the Wizards have so many offensive options gives them the versatility that will pose problems for any teams in the Eastern Conference, including the Miami Heat. Just look what the Hawks five-out offense is doing to one of the best defenses in the league. They’ve also managed to make Roy Hibbert dispensable in that series.
Washington isn’t going anywhere — and not just in this playoffs. This is just the beginning of what could be a great run for the immediate future the Wizards.
Sit back, settle in and watch them prove people wrong.