Wizards celebrate playoff berth like it’s 2005


(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

John Wall and his Wizards teammates were in a celebratory mood last night after clinching the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2008 with a 118-82 win over the Celtics.

DeAngelo Hall and former Wizard Etan Thomas showed the Wizards some love as well.

As excited as they were last night, the Wizards say their work isn’t done.

“I mean you celebrate tonight and get ready to go on the road and win another game,” John Wall told Michael Lee. “That’s the main thing for me is to try to finish the season as strong as possible and prepare ourselves for a great playoff seed spot. You don’t want to slip to seventh or eighth spot, and got to play one of those other teams.”

The joy of simply making the playoffs fades fast, as Capitals fans know all too well. Wizards fans experienced the same thing when Washington made four consecutive playoff appearances from 2005-08 after not making the postseason for eight years. The TRUE, DIE HARD WIZARD FANS will remember those days. (Heck, I saved The Post’s Sports section from the morning after the Bullets clinched a playoff spot on the final day of the 1996-97 season.)

2005


The lede from Michael Lee’s gamer after the Wizards clinched a playoff spot with a win over the Bulls:

One year after winning 25 games, two years after Michael Jordan drove his black Mercedes out of MCI Center for the last time and about eight years after Chris Webber and Juwan Howard teased the populace with the promise of false hope, Washington is back in the playoffs.

There was a lot worth celebrating. The Wizards even won their first-round playoff series against Chicago before losing in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Miami Heat.

2006


From Ivan Carter’s gamer:

After the final buzzer sounded, the playoff celebration was mild compared to the one fans and players engaged in last April, when the Wizards clinched a berth at home with a win over the Chicago Bulls. Most players, including [Caron] Butler, who was with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, simply walked to the locker room and turned their attention to tomorrow night’s game against the Bucks, who have beaten the Wizards twice this season.

The Wizards dropped their opening round series to Cleveland, four games to two, losing the final two games in overtime.

2007


The Wizards blew a five-point lead with 1 minute 41 seconds left and fell to the Nets, 96-92, their season-high fifth loss in a row. They clinched a playoff anyway, but the mood afterward was nothing like 2005. From Michael Lee’s gamer:

As the dejected players walked off the court, and the disappointed crowd of 16,224 left the building, the public address announcer informed those remaining of the 76ers’ 90-86 victory over Indiana. The result — and its ramifications — barely went acknowledged. Instead of the pomp and circumstance that greeted their playoff appearance two years ago, the Wizards entered the postseason this time wheeled in on a gurney. “It’s a different way to make it into the playoffs,” Coach Eddie Jordan said afterward, “but we’re here.”

Cleveland swept the Wizards in the first round.

2008


From Ivan Carter’s gamer:

Last night, when the Wizards clinched their fourth straight playoff appearance with a 109-95 victory over the dreadful Miami Heat, the reaction from the crowd was the basketball equivalent of a golf clap, and players reacted with relief rather than excitement.

The hey-great-we-made-the-playoffs honeymoon was officially over; Cleveland’s ownership of the Wizards was not. The dreadful Miami Heat, huh? It really has been a while since the Wizards made the playoffs. Go celebrate.


Scott Allen writes about all things DC sports. Follow him on Twitter @ScottSAllen or e-mail him if you’ve got a tip to share.
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