The Wizards finally solved the puzzle of putting together a complete game at home. Riding the momentum of an impressive win in Chicago back to Verizon Center, the Wizards shocked the two-time defending champion Miami Heat with 114-97 victory that served as a clinic on ball movement, defensive intensity and getting out in transition.
But getting up for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh should be easy, since the alternative is embarrassment. And the Wizards don’t want to believe that all of their problems at home are over because of one dominant performance. Washington still remains 8-9 at Verizon Center and has four more coming up in the building – beginning on Friday with a rematch against the Bulls – before embarking on a four-game West Coast trip.
“We hopefully put that behind us,” Marcin Gortat said of the struggles at home. “We still have a few games at home, and we want to win these games. We are capable of winning these games and we want to put ourselves in a really good situation for the road trip. Everything is front of us, but we got to stay focused, we can’t get excited. We’ve already been there. We’ve lost too many games. We’ve been excited too much and we’ve lost a lot of games.”
The Wizards (18-19) have won two in a row and now have a chance to reach .500 for the third time this season and break a tie with Chicago for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Regardless of the venue, Coach Randy Wittman wants the Wizards to continue playing at their current level. The team has won four of its past six games.
“I don’t want our guys caught up in home and away. I want us caught up in how,” Wittman said. “We’ve been successful because of how we played on the road and we haven’t played the same way at home. As long as we get back to playing on the road and at home the same way, your success is going to be defined by that. We for whatever reason haven’t had the same intensity at home that we’ve pretty much had all year on the road. The golden question is why, and I don’t have an answer to that. You get a little comfort level at home. You’re in your own bed. Mom comes in a cooks you a meal. You don’t have that on the road. We have to find that out. If we can play like [the Miami game] every night, we don’t have to worry about that.”
Bradley Beal feels that this homestand, which includes games against Detroit, Philadelphia and Boston, is critical for the team. “It means a lot,” he said. “It’s definitely an opportunity for us to get some wins. They are all winnable games and we put ourselves in a great position to do so. I think getting a win and getting our feet wet at home, gives us a lot of confidence. It’s great. Everybody is energized, happy, the locker room is happy. That’s what you want. Regardless of how individuals played, we played great as a team and you can definitely see it on people’s faces.”
Like Gortat, Beal also stressed that the Wizards couldn’t get too excited about the win over Miami, even though he called the 43-point first quarter against the Heat, “probably the best quarter I’ve ever seen in basketball. We have to stay grounded. We know we played a great game, but we still have tough teams that are coming up. Teams that are capable of winning games, just as well as we are. We have to continue to play the way we’ve been playing but at the same time, staying level headed, staying grounded, continue to work hard and get better.”
The Wizards have won the past two games with Nene back in the starting lineup and are 11-7 overall when he starts. Nene has scored 19 points and brought aggressive energy on both ends, but believes that the effort of the entire team has been the difference. “If we play 50 percent of the way we play” against Miami, Nene said, “we going to be in good position at the end of the season.”
(TV: Comcast SportsNet. Radio: WFED-1500).
Here’s some reading to help you get ready for the game: