The season is officially over for the Washington Wizards. It was the best season in multiple decades for the lowly franchise and it was hell of a run, but the Indiana Pacers ended the dream of an Eastern Conference Finals appearance Thursday night in the nation’s capital with a 93-80 win to capture the series. It was a tough game to watch, but throughout the game, you just had the feeling the Wizards’ season was slipping away with each David West midrange jumpshot and every John Wall missed jumper.
The Wizards had chances throughout the game. A Bradley Beal bomb at the top of the key gave the Wizards a 74-73 fourth quarter lead, but that was as close as it got. And even though we all love to hate on the Pacers and make fun of them for their every step, they were the better team in Game 6 and in the series. Just as nearly all of us predicted, we are going to have a Miami Heat-Indiana Pacers Eastern Conference Finals. Joke’s on us, I guess. But back to the Wizards. And that’s simply who they were last night. They were the Washington Wizards. This team has had its ups and downs for 30 years now and last night was just that.
Beal and Wall’s youth shined throughout D.C. as the promising, but not quite “there” yet duo, combined to shoot 12-of-35 from the field in the game. That’s not getting it done in a must-win game against a defensive juggernaut in the Indiana Pacers. Trevor Ariza went 1-of-5 from the floor and the Wizards shot 2-18 from the three-point line. I could dwell all night about the Wizards’ rough performance, but let’s take a quick look at some of the positives from this all-around successful season.
1. The Wall-Beal backcourt is going to be a force to reckon with for years to come.
This may end up being the best backcourt in basketball in a few years. Wall is 23 years old. Beal is 20. Wall averaged 19.3 points per game along with 8.8 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.8 steals. Beal averaged 17.1 points per game on 40.2 percent from beyond the arc and was spectacular in a multitude of big-time playoff games. From everything I have heard about these two, they are exceptionally hard workers and hate losing so they will be back and better than before next year. The future is bright with this two-headed monster.
2. Marcin Gortat‘s Game 5 against the Pacers was something special.
Gortat seems to be one of the most fun-loving, all-around great dudes in the league. And to see him bounce back from only playing 21 minutes in Game 4 (none in the fourth quarter) was pretty freakin’ sweet. He annihilated the Pacers with pure heart and a freakish determination to score 31 points on 13-of-15 shooting along with 16 rebounds in a due or die situation. I have no idea what the Wizards are going to do with his contract this summer, but it is hard to not want a guy like that on your team.
3. The excitement about Wizards basketball is back.
And it should be. This team had a win-now mentality heading into the season and they won. But they didn’t just win on the court. They won off it because this was a team, who was frustrating at times, but always played hard and was just an overall very easy team to like. I’ll have more extensive posts on what is to come in the offseason, but hey, this America and we like instant results. This Wizards team will be back.