Move the ball and rely on different leading scorers every night. Don't let offensive troubles negatively impact effort on defense. Find players who are the best fit for the system, not only when it comes to style but attitude. In other words, the Wizards strive to be like the San Antonio Spurs, who play at Verizon Center on Wednesday night (CSN, 7 p.m. ET).
The Wizards have beaten four of their last six Western Conference opponents, and the two of the best teams in the NBA consecutively in the Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers, to get over .500 for the first time this late in a season since January 2008.
"It's always a good feeling when you're playing well, when you play the way we are as a unit. It's not like one guy's carrying us," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "We've been so consistent. Last night, four of the five starters had double-figure shot attempts. The game before it was all five starters. We're in a good spot. You want to maintain that."
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They did it with starting center Marcin Gortat only getting six points vs. Portland and backup Kevin Seraphin coming in to post a season-high 19 points.
They did it without Trevor Booker, the first power forward off the bench who is valuable for his hustle and rebounding, being excused for family reasons.
They did it with starting power forward Nene shooting just 5-for-15.
They did it with starting shooting guard Bradley Beal going 8-for-28, including 2-for-9 from three-point range, in the last two games. And sixth man Martell Webster, who has substituted for Beal, has only shoot 5-for-15 in the same span.
The Wizards (24-23) are beating elite teams the Spurs' way. It's the most successful franchise in all of the major sports, getting 50 wins or more every season since the 1999-200 season, and including the 66-game shortened season of 2011-12. A small-market success, they've won four NBA championships and have made five finals appearances with a couple of stars and a litany of interchangeable role players who play the right way.
"It's something that we're stressing, and our guys are believing. That's how we've got to continue to play. There's no pre-determining what we're going to do from an offensive standpoint," Wittman said. "It's OK, they're going to take that away, the ball moves on to the next guy, the open guy. Everybody's capable of doing their job in that aspect of it. When we play that way we're difficult to guard. You can't scheme up and say you're going to take a certain player away. We hope they try to do that. That opens up things for us when teams try to do that."
He'd rather wait than pat his team on the back for accomplishing a winning record. It's a fluid situation with 35 games left to be played.
"You get measured at the end," Wittman said. "That's where the real measurement comes."