With their first three-game winning streak of the season, the Wizards are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference. San Antonio and Memphis are the only teams in the NBA riding longer win streaks, at seven and four respectively.
Two of their past three wins have come in Chicago and Miami, making Washington the only NBA team with wins in United Center and AmericanAirlines Arena this season. The Bulls didn’t have Derrick Rose or Luol Deng, and the Heat didn’t have LeBron James or Chris Bosh and lost Dwyane Wade three minutes into the game. But Coach Randy Wittman said those wins came more as a result of what the Wizards did defensively – and not what their opponents didn’t have on the court.
“We’ve got to keep focused on what we’re doing,” Wittman said. “We’ve got three wins in a row. Why do we have three wins in a row? That’s what I’m trying to keep these guys focused at, why are we playing good.”
The Wizards won a shootout with Milwaukee, but they held both the Bulls and Heat to just 84 points and scored 27 points off turnovers in each game. Chicago also shot just 38.1 percent, while Miami shot 40.3 percent in those losses.
“Whether we’re making shots or missing shots, we haven’t lost our focus from a defensive standpoint. That’s led us into getting out of maybe struggles shooting the ball. It gave us opportunities to get into the fast break,” Wittman said. “I think in the three games have been over 20 points in the fast break, over 20 points off turnovers. That fuels you through tough shooting nights, when things aren’t clicking offensively. I think that’s why it is. We’ve been able to sustain ourselves through rough periods of offensive execution through getting out on the break because of our stops defensively.”
The Wizards have won five of their past seven games and are also one of eight teams in the East with a record of .500 or better over their past 10 games. Wittman acknowledged that spirits are pretty high as his players tie a bow on yet another lottery-bound season.
“It’s enjoyable for them,” Wittman said. “Listen, that’s what it’s all about, winning and losing. When you lose, it’s miserable, whether you’re a player, coach, a fan. When you win, it’s fun. Absolutely. We’ve had to kind of endure because of who we are as a young team and stuff, taking some good things out of losses and how you’re playing. But obviously when you win, and see the reasons why you’re winning, it is enjoyable.”