A former Cleveland Cavaliers center approached Randy Wittman in the hallway before last nights game and asked him how things are going. The Washington Wizards head coach responded by saying, you never have a bad day in this life.
In so many ways it has not been an easy season for Wittman or the Wizards, but the days are much better. With last nights 96-85 win over the Cavaliers the Wizards have won five straight games for the first time since November of 2007. That was when the Wizards won six straight games and they can match that mark with a win in tonights season finale at home against Miami.
It probably wasnt one of our cleanest wins, said Wittman We didnt shoot the ball real well, but again, we try to tell these guys that you cant base your play on making or missing shots. And it was, again, our defense that kind of ignited our things offensively.
At half-time the Wizards led the Cavaliers 49-45, but were only shooting 42 percent from the field and had only five fast break points. In the third quarter John Wall seized the game and led the Wizards to a 12-2 advantage in fast break points while adding 12 points on 5 of 5 shooting from the field, 6 assists and 4 steals.
Wall is playing some of the best basketball of his young career as he closes his second professional season. Wall finished with 21 points, 13 assists, 7 rebounds, and 7 steals against the Cavaliers. Wall has now recorded double-digit assists in four consecutive games.
We want to finish the season 6-0, Wall said. I am trying to become a complete player. I can get six or seven rebounds every game and my coaches are encouraging me to do that. I have the athleticism and ability to compete on the boards and get after loose balls.
Tonights game will be the Wizards second meeting with the Heat in six days. In Saturdays 86-84 win in Miami, LeBron James and Chris Bosh were rested and Dwyane Wade suffered a fractured left index finger in the first quarter. With the Heat already locked into the second seed in the Eastern Conference, it is likely the teams big three will be spectators against the Wizards.
James, Bosh and Wade have been dealing with what head coach Erik Speolstra has termed legitimate injuries. Even before Wade hurt his finger against the Wizards he had missed 14 games this season with a variety of ailments. Bosh has missed the last five games with a hamstring injury and James over the last month has dealt with a bruised elbow and dislocated finger.
In stringing together five consecutive wins the Wizards have kept the focus on themselves and talked little about their opponents. The Wizards have been trying to use this final month as launching pad for next season. Nene is probably the best example of the commitment by the players with his return from a foot injury to average 13.7 points off the bench the last four games.
The Wizards are also trying to form a better defensive identity. There was stretch in March when the Wizards held opponents to under 100 points in nine consecutive games. During the current Wizards five-game winning streak, they have held opponents to an average of 87.6 points or 11.3 points below their season mark.