As the NBA regular season enters its final month of action and teams begin to make their playoff pushes, an alarming problem has come up for the Washington Wizards. It’s a problem that could cost them some valuable ground in the playoff race.
In the Wizards’ past 14 games, they have four losses coming against the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Charlotte Bobcats and most recently the Sacramento Kings. While they do have 11 wins over that stretch, it’s the ugly losses to the Kings and Bobcats, as well as an ugly win against the Orlando Magic, that is concerning.
If the Wizards can’t take care of business against teams that don’t deserve to beat them, that’s a huge problem. Between now and the end of the season, the Wizard have a fairly weak schedule. They play the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Bobcats (twice), Boston Celtics and New York Knicks, just to name a few. There are several matchups that are winnable games, but the Wizards can’t turn in a performance like they did on Tuesday night.
Against the Kings, who are 20 games under .500, the Wizards stumbled out to a 30-19 deficit after the first quarter. They took the lead early in the second half and appeared to be in control. With 30 seconds left, they had a five-point lead. After John Wall missed a pair of free throws, Sacramento then tied the game and went on to win in overtime.
In a playoff race as tight as the bottom half of the East is, the Wizards can’t afford to lose these “gimmie” games. While you never want to label a team as a circled win, there are definitely some teams the Wizards should beat quite handily. When you come across a team that you should beat, you need to get the job done. Allowing them to hang around will create drama in late-game situations, and the underdog often comes out on top.
The Wizards are a basketball team on the rise in the NBA, but they are young and that youth has shown this season. Experienced teams that are bound for the playoffs put away the teams they are supposed to beat and move on to the next one. Instead, Washington faces a tough challenge every night and loses to teams they should beat. It’s a problem that is only becoming more prevalent, and they need to figure out a solution.
Whether it’s putting experience like Drew Gooden, Al Harrington or Andre Miller on the floor more frequently, or simply using some mental tactics on the bulletin board, head coach Randy Wittman needs to find a remedy for this issue. The Wizard have a terrible time beating teams that don’t deserve to beat win, and it could ruin their season. They’ve worked too hard this season for it all to be thrown away for reasons as silly as this.
The Wizards a good basketball team that deserve a spot in the playoffs. They have the pieces in place to be major contenders, but they can’t get complacent as the regular season draws to a close. Washington needs to figure out how to close out basketball games, or else it could lead to a premature exit in the playoffs.