If the Wizards can pull out an upset win over the Boston Celtics in their Verizon Center finale, they would finish the season with 20 home victories.
With a 19-21 home record, the Wizards (22-58) already have the most home wins since the 2007-08 season -- the last time the franchise made the playoffs. It is also the most home wins for a Washington team that failed to make the post season since 2002-03 when Michael Jordan played his final season with the Wizards and won 23 home games.
“Compared to what our overall record is, that’s a lot,” Coach Flip Saunders said. “Usually, you win 20 home games, you’re hoping to be in the mid-30s as far as wins. Usually with young teams, the first progression is to win at home, and beat teams you’re supposed to [beat] at home, then you start beating the better teams -- you know, we beat Atlanta last time, which is a step forward -- and from then, you go on to winning on the road. I think that there’s no question, that’s something to build on.
“You start next year, you say, we had 20, let’s try to get another seven or eight, get that up to 28, and all of sudden, you win 13 games [on the road] and you’re hovering at that 40, 42 wins,” Saunders said. “That’s something we’ve got to really point towards.”
The Wizards have won three in a row at Verizon Center, where they have claimed three victories this season against teams that entered the game with a winning record, claiming wins over Boston, Utah and Atlanta. Although the Jazz has slid into irrelevance after Jerry Sloan’s resignation and the Deron Williams trade, the Wizards can look back on some other home wins as quality victories.
While most of their wins have come against fellow league bottom feeders, the Wizards have two home wins against the Philadelphia 76ers, an Eastern Conference playoff team. They have also topped two Western Conference playoff teams in Memphis and Portland. Houston missed out on the playoffs, but the Rockets will finish with a winning record.
A second home win over the Celtics would be a remarkable feat, since Boston is in a must-win situation after losing to Miami on Sunday and dropping to the No. 3 seed in the East behind the Heat. The Celtics, who have gone just 14-11 since trading Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City at the deadline, need to win their final two games and hope that Miami loses at least one, in order to get the No. 2 seed.
All but six teams already have 20 home wins this season, but the Wizards have the league’s worst road record at 3-37.
“It’s about as close, from an atmosphere, to being in the playoffs. We’ve got to come in with a great amount of aggression, and come out and just play,” Saunders said. “It’s interesting because you look at a situation, where a lot of people, they always talk how chemistry being important. With Perkins going down, it’s hurt their chemistry a little bit. You look at us and we’ve kind of gone the other way. Our chemistry right now is probably as good as it has been all season.”