You don’t have to look far to find a pundit picking against the Wizards in their first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls. Heck, our own Brandon Parker likes the Bulls to win in six. Hater.
Eighteen of 19 ESPN experts picked the Bulls to win the series, though Bill Simmons picked Washington to advance to the Eastern Conference finals against Miami during his Friday podcast with Grantland’s Zach Lowe.
“I feel like they would go into round two against Indiana and believe that they could win that series and go to the conference finals,” said Simmons, who reaffirmed his pick yesterday. “In my opinion, that’s this year’s threat to become the random Memphis that gets into the conference finals and everyone’s just confused. Like: ‘Wow, Washington’s in the conference finals. What just happened?’”
Washington has some supporters in the TNT studio, too.
“I’m going with the Wizards in a slight upset,” Charles Barkley said before Washington’s 102-93 win in Game 1 on Sunday night. “Listen, I’ve been on the Wizards’ bandwagon all season; they just can’t stay healthy. I think that’s been the biggest detriment to them or they would’ve had a higher seed. But this young back court – as much as I talk about Klay Thompson – I love Bradley Beal, and John Wall came into his own. This is going to be the best back court in the NBA in the next three to five years.”
“I’m going to have to agree with Chuck and I’m going to also have to go with Washington,” Shaquille O’Neal said. “The regular season is where you make a name for yourself; the playoffs is where you solidify your name.”
You should know that O’Neal was wearing this hat, in tribute to Craig Sager, before making his pick.
Kenny Smith was ridiculed — rightfully so — for deferring his pick until halftime, with Barkley suggesting that he would ask to make his Kentucky Derby pick at the quarter pole.
“I haven’t seen the Bulls or the Wizards as much as I’ve wanted to see over the last month [while covering] March Madness, but I wanted to see if they were who I thought they were when they left,” Smith said, with Washington trailing Chicago 54-48 at the break. “I’m going to go with the Chicago Bulls, and not because of the first unit. It’s because their second unit is really their best unit. When they go to their bench, they’re so much different.”
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