If the Washington Wizards want to be a playoff team like they hoped for before the season started, they need to get it together. At some point the saying “it is still early in the season” has to be laid to rest. This team is not performing to its capabilities and this week would be a good week to find their mojo.
The Wizards currently hold a 2-7 record and sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference along with the Milwaukee Bucks. They are on a four-game losing streaks and have not found their identity. There is no main problem to the Wizards’ struggles right now. Yes, the play of John Wall is hindering the team. Yes, Randy Wittman’s failure to find a solid rotation is an issue. However, all sorts of things have led to another disastrous start for the D.C. franchise.
With four games this week and all of them being winnable games, the Wizards have a chance to get on track and gain some momentum heading into December.
The Wizards start off this week with a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight at home. The Timberwolves have been one of the most exciting teams in this early part of the season. They are 7-4 and are led by the tandem of Ricky Rubio and the double-double machine Kevin Love. This game will be the toughest test for the Wizards this week. The big question will be if the Wizards can slow down the Timberwolves, who are averaging 108.5 points per game, which is third-best in the entire league. On the flip side, the Wizards are allowing 104.6 points per game, which is 27th in the league. The Wizards will have to find a way to slow down the Rubio-led fastbreaks as well as keeping Love off the boards in order to stop the Timberwolves and have a chance to win this one. Anything can happen in this league, especially at home, so why not tonight to ignite the Wizards for the rest of the week, right?
The Wizards travel to Cleveland on Wednesday night looking for revenge after falling to the Cavaliers 103-96 in overtime Saturday. Kyrie Irving dominated the Wizards for 41 points and hit some big shots. Stopping him will be even bigger of an emphasis for the Wizards Wednesday night because his big game a few nights ago. The Wizards were in position to win the game Saturday. They were up by five with three minutes to go and could not close the Cavs out. They need John Wall to score more than nine points like he did Saturday when facing a guard as explosive as Irving, but they need his defense as well as the team’s overall defense to be much better to shutdown Irving and leave Cleveland with a win Wednesday.
Friday night the Wizards head up north across the border to take on the 4-7 Toronto Raptors. The Raptors have been solid so far and are led by two guys that have never seen a shot they do not like. Rudy Gay and Demar DeRozan are both averaging more than 20 points per game for the Raptors, but neither is shooting over 41% from the field. The Wizards need to force these guys into tough shots to keep them from having big games. I would also like to see the Wizards really get out and run against this Raptors team. The Raptors play at the second slowest pace (91.1) in the entire league. The Wizards have played faster than most teams in the league thus far and with John Wall’s speed, they should make the Raptors uncomfortable and really push the tempo.
To close out the week, Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks come to the nation’s capital Saturday. The Knicks are currently 3-6 and myself, along with many others, do not really know what to make of this Knicks team. They have Anthony, who is capable of getting 40 points on any given night, but he has been inefficient in scoring so far this season as well as involving his teammates. The Knicks are without their defensive leader Tyson Chandler, who is out without a broken right fibula. The Knicks’ frontcourt is incredibly weak and the Wizards should try and take advantage of it. I really like the Wizards chances in this one because no one on the Knicks is a real threat to stop Wall’s ability to penetrate, but Wall must recognize that and use it to have a big game and end the week strong.
The Wizards have a chance to start feeling better about themselves after this week. They realistically could win three of the four games this week, which would put them at 5-8. There is a big difference from 5-8 and 3-10. If the Wizards want to have a big week then Wall must start playing like a max contract guy. There has been a lot of heat fired at the point guard’s play to start the season and rightfully so. Over the last four games, which have all been losses, Wall is averaging 11.8 points per game on 30.6 percent shooting. The Wizards cannot be a playoff team when a guy they rely on so much puts up numbers like that. John Wall, as well as the Wizards, have a chance to start turning things around this week.