Washington Wizards have peaked after 2nd round elimination in the NBA playoffs. After missing the playoffs in the 2015-16 NBA season, the Washington Wizards bounced back this year. Going 49-33, the Wizards won the Southeast division and clinched the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, led by new head coach Scott Brooks. The Wizards were then able to carry their regular season success into the first round of the playoffs.
By defeating the Atlanta Hawks in six games, the Wizards booked their ticket to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals where they would take on the Boston Celtics. However, despite their regular season and first round success, the Wizards failed to take that momentum into their series with the Celtics. Losing the series in seven games, the Wizards showed their true colors, and as a result have established an unfortunate notion. With their second round elimination, the Wizards have officially peaked.
Washington Wizards Have Peaked After 2nd Round Elimination:
Wizards Vs. Celtics Series Recap
In games one and two of their matchup with the Celtics, the Wizards blew two golden opportunities. After getting out to a 16-0 lead in game one, the Wizards proceeded to blow their early lead and lose 123-111. Then, the ensuing night, the Wizards fell back into their game one ways. Blowing a 42-29 first half lead, the Wizards yet again failed to keep a double digit lead, as they fell 129-119 in overtime. Led by Isaiah Thomas‘ 53 point night, the Celtics were able to go up 2-0, with the series heading to the nation’s capital. The Wizards though, bounced back in a big way in games three and four.
Unlike games one and two, the Wizards got out to a big lead in game three and were able to keep it. Getting out to a 39-17 lead after the first quarter, the Wizards never looked back, as they went on to win 116-89. The ensuing night they would get out to another big lead, but this time in the second half.
After playing in a tightly contested affair for two and a half quarters, the Wizards broke out in the third quarter. Going on a 26-0 run, they pulled away from the Celtics and tied the series at two games a piece, winning 121-102. The Wizards though, couldn’t keep their high octane level of play up when they went back to Boston.
In game five, the Wizards were blown out of TD Garden. Losing 123-101, their offense and defense completely collapsed, despite playing exceptional the two previous games. After their no-show in Boston, the Wizards kept the series alive with a game six victory.
Led by Bradley Beal‘s 33 point night, as well as John Wall‘s second half explosion, including hitting the game winning three in the final seconds, the Wizards were able to force a game seven, gutting out a 92-91 win. The Wizards though, failed to win in TD Garden in game seven.
In what was a tightly fought contest for the majority of the first three quarters, the Wizards ultimately failed to come out on top, losing 115-105 and being eliminated from the playoffs. This is the third time in the last four years that the Wizards have been bounced out of the playoffs in the Semi-Finals. Their inability to advance to the Conference Finals is an indicator for the current state of their squad.
The Wizards Have Gotten Little Help From Their Supporting Cast
Despite having a great backcourt in Wall and Beal, the Wizards as a unit have peaked. Outside of Wall and Beal, the Wizards have some established players, but to what extent?
Center Marcin Gortat, while a solid force in the paint, is on the back nine of his career and has shown signs of regression. Despite playing 31.5 minutes per game in the playoffs, Gortat averaged just 8.5 points per game. For an established veteran like Gortat, it’s underwhelming to average that low of a figure in the postseason. It’s also disappointing for a team with a two headed monster in its backcourt, to have their bench serve as a massive liability in the playoffs.
After their starting five (Wall, Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, Gortat), the Wizards received little to no production from their reserves in the postseason. Outside of forward Bojan Bogdanovic, who averaged 8.8 points per game in the postseason, the Wizards bench didn’t play up to par. With every player outside of Bogdanovic failing to average at least six points per game in the postseason, the Wizards got little to no help from their bench. However, despite averaging 27.2 and 24.8 points per game in postseason play, Wall and Beal shouldn’t be left off the hook.
Wall And Beal Are Who They Are
While they form a lethal backcourt duo, given their offensive production, both Wall and Beal have their flaws. While Wall does attack the rack and facilitate for his teammates, he struggles with his jumper. On the other hand, while Beal is a proven scorer, he has never been a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end. Another question to ponder is whether Wall and Beal can really get better? The answer to that is likely no.
Wall is one of the three best point guards in the game, but for the most part, he is who he is; there’s little room for improvement on his end. While shooting is a weakness, Wall has never exactly shown signs of improvement in that facet of his game. The same goes for Beal with his defense.
While he is still young, Beal has shown little-to-no signs of improvement on the defensive end. Given his consistent mediocrity on the defense throughout the duration of his career, there’s little reason to believe that Beal will improve that part of his game.
Otto Porter’s Free Agency
With Porter hitting free agency this summer, the Wizards will be faced with a daunting task – whether to show him the big bucks or let him walk. While he’s a very valuable player to the Wizards given his two way play and youth, Porter is bound to be overpaid this summer; that will force the Wizards to make a hard decision on their starting small forward. The Wizards may have to pay a max deal or a figure close to that in order to keep him. Beal’s defense may motivate them to do just that; however, even if Porter is brought back, the Wizards won’t be able to get over the hump.
The Wizards Have Peaked
Going into the NBA Playoffs, many viewed the Wizards as the biggest threat to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. That notion though, was proven wrong in their second round series with the Celtics. If you’re going to be a threat to the defending champions, you cannot lose four times on the road versus a team not named the Cavaliers in the East. The Wizards doing just that shows how they’re not a championship caliber team. Also, given the Celtics’ plethora of trade assets, which they can use to swing a deal for a star player, (Paul George?) as well as the presence of Lebron James, the Wizards will not be able to get over the hump.
Wall and Beal are a force to be reckoned with as a combo on the offensive end, but outside of them, the Wizards are lackluster. That inconsistency, paired with the Wizards’ inability as a whole to get past the second round year in and year out, proves that they have peaked and cannot win with the roster they currently have assembled.