Contrary to many expert predictions, the 1-seed Washington Wizards closed out the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs with a surprise 4-1 series win over the 4-seed Chicago Bulls. Lead by dynamic guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, this young team has been playing some of its best basketball of the season at the right time.
After waiting the past six years to return to the playoffs, the Wizards are hoping to make their return last as long as they can. This is the first time the Wizards have made it to the second round of the NBA playoffs since 2005. Currently, they are awaiting their next opponent, which will either be the Atlanta Hawks or Indiana Pacers. No matter whom they face in the next round, the Wizards think they’re beatable.
Do the John Wall!
Much of the success of the Wizards this season has resulted in the play of John Wall. In Game 5, Wall finished with a game-high 24 points and seven rebounds. Ever since the former Kentucky Guard arrived in the Capital, he has been the team’s everything. Yet, he actually wasn’t at his best during the first round. Wall was only shooting 36.4 percent from the floor, but if you know anything about the Wizards, Wall is the player that can change a game with just one possession. He will be the player that the Wizards will be relying on to step up and hit the big shots late in games. It will be interesting to see how far the 23-year-old can take this young squad.
The Fountain of Youth
It is understandable why many experts expected the Wiz to be a one-and-done playoff team, seeing as their backcourt is led by two players who have never reached the playoffs before. Many experts expected the youth of the team’s backcourt to almost guarantee an early exit. Proving the doubters wrong, Wall and 20-year-old Beal have raised expectations on how deep of a run the team can actually make. Beal led all scorers in the series against the Bulls, where he averaged 19.8 points and shot 45.5 percent from behind the three point line. His sharpshooting will greatly be greatly appreciated and much needed if the Wizards want to advance. Both are hungry to prove their ability, and together picked apart the Bulls defense with ease.
Don’t Forget About the Big Man
You have to give some credit to the Brazilian Nene, the Wizards’ main threat who helped upset the Bulls. The team’s veteran power forward at the age of 31 has recently been called the Wizards “X-Factor.” Nene brings leadership to an overall young squad, but has been injury-prone. Much like trying to keep your classic car in good condition with ford car covers, Nene’s condition is vital to the Wizards’ chances of making a run deep into the playoffs. He is currently carrying some bangs and bruises, but nothing that should keep him from playing his usual minutes. If he can stay healthy and average good minutes, don’t count the Wizards out.