Charles Barkley was the earliest and most consistent major media voice singing Washington’s praises this year.
He said they were the third-best team in the Eastern Conference in early February. He said it again in late February. Last week, he went against almost every pundit to pick the Wizards over the Bulls in this series.
But peak Barkley arrived early Wednesday morning, when Barkley and his TNT studio mates broke down Washington’s Game 2 win.
“This team is growing up before our eyes, America,” Barkley said.
He said John Wall “is learning to be a point guard instead of just a tornado out there.” He said Bradley Beal “has arrived.” And then he said this.
“I will tell you this: whoever plays that team in the second round is gonna have their hands full.”
“Are you saying this one is over then?” Ernie Johnson asked.
“This is O-V-E-R in a 4-0 sweep,” Barkley said. “It is flat-out over. [The Bulls] can’t beat them. They can’t score enough. Ernie, I told you all season, this was the third-best team in the Eastern Conference when they’re healthy. They’re fully healthy, Wall and Beal are terrific. Nene is the key. He’s a nightmare matchup for most guys.
“They’re gonna sweep the Bulls,” Barkley went on. “This series is a wrap. Whoever they play in the next series, whether it’s Indiana or Atlanta, they’re gonna have their hands full, because this team, they’re deep. They’ve got veteran leadership. They went out and got Andre Miller for leadership. Trevor Ariza’s been deep in the playoffs. Their two best players are [young]. They’re the key. Wall is growing up before our eyes, Beal can flat-out just shoot with anybody. But with the guys coming off the bench, this is gonna be a sweep.”