Wizards can't afford tailspin during this 7-game stretch

Wizards can't afford tailspin during this 7-game stretch
January 23, 2014, 11:00 am
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Wizards reactions after OT loss

(Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

The balance of the Wizards' season could hang in what happens during the next two weeks. After wasting two wins at Verizon Center against losing teams in the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics, they're faced with a seven-game stretch against a murder's row:

At the Phoenix Suns (24-17) on Friday; at the Utah Jazz (14-29) on Saturday; at the Golden State Warriors (26-17) and L.A. Clippers (29-15) on Tuesday and Wednesday; vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder (33-10) on Feb. 1; vs. the Portland Trail Blazers (31-11) on Feb. 3; and vs. the San Antonio Spurs (32-10) on Feb. 5. 

Easily, they could go 1-6 with their only win coming in Utah. That would put the Wizards at 21-27 and drastically alter their standing in the East. 

Wednesday's 113-111 loss to the Boston Celtics (15-29) was unacceptable on every level. Sure, they've got good players, too, but the Wizards were at home and a win would've put them over .500 for the first time this late in the season since January 2008.  The Celtics not only were decimated in the backcourt with injuries, they were playing the second game of a road back-to-back. 

And that is what makes teams such as the Spurs and Thunder elite. They'll approach the Wizards (20-21) the same as the Blazers. They don't have drastic drop-offs in play.

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I asked coach Randy Wittman about this specifically after practice Tuesday, if he was concerned his team would take the Celtics, who'd lost 11 of 12 games in 2014, seriously. While he said it didn't matter to him who was on the court and that he simply needed his team to play the right way, reality struck. His team did underestimate the opposition. Jeff Green went for a game-high 39 points and Gerald Wallace buried the game-winner. Phil Pressey, an undrafted and undersized rookie point guard, had a career-high 20 points and made 5 of 6 three-pointers in place of All-Star Rajon Rondo who was resting as he works his way back from right knee surgery.

“Jeff Green has been in this league, Wallace has been in this league, (Kris) Humphries has been in this league," Wittman said, imploring that despite all the injuries they had in the backcourt that the Celtics still were formidable. "Brandon Bass has been to the conference finals. These guys have played in playoff games. We don’t have guys that play in playoff games. That is the problem. You cannot screw with the basketball gods like that. It always comes back to get you. Every player in this league can play. They’re in the NBA. Every player can play.  And if you don’t give them the respect, this is what happens. I give full credit to (coach) Brad (Stevens) and his team. They came out and they hit us right away, and didn’t stop.”

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