The Wizards earned a six-day layoff before the start of their next postseason series after knocking off the Chicago Bulls in just five games. Washington and Miami are the only teams to have advanced so far, with the every other postseason series going at least six games. Three series – including Indiana-Atlanta, which will determine the Wizards’ second-round opponent – will go seven games.
But after winning eight of their past nine games including the end of the regular season, Bradley Beal isn’t worried about the Wizards losing any momentum entering Monday’s Game 1 against either the Pacers or Hawks.
“You could,” Beal said of experiencing some slippage in competitive edge, “but at the same time, hopefully one of those teams will be tired by Monday. They are playing so many games in a tough series, battling each other. We got to make sure we don’t do that. And we come out Monday, whoever we play against, we’re on edge and ready to go from the start.”
Coach Randy Wittman gave his players the day off Wednesday, then let the players have an “individual day” Thursday to lift weights, put up extra shots or get maintenance work on any nicks and bruises accrued over the course of the past 87 games. Beal used his time to work on taking shots off the dribble and three-pointers. Many of the veterans spent extra time in the cold tub.
“The challenge is to heal. We have to heal our little small injuries and make sure we’re going to get in even better shape,” Marcin Gortat said. “We’re going to use this time to heal, to rest, to make sure we’re going to get even stronger, just spend this time with the family now and when the other series start, we’re going to cut that off and focus on basketball. We can’t trip. We have to keep winning if we want to stay in this business now.”
Extended time off hasn’t gone well for the Wizards this season. Washington was 0-6 when given at least three days of rest in the regular season. It beat the Bulls in Game 1 of their first-round series after a four-day break from the end of the reason, but their Game 3 loss came after a two-day respite between games. The other three wins came after one day off.
“Whether you like rest or you want to keep going, we don’t have a choice,” Wittman said. “We’ll do what we have to do to take advantage of these days. Obviously if you’re banged up a little bit, you wish for a couple days off in between but if you’re playing good, you’d rather keep going. That’s all debatable.”
The team plans to resume regular practice Friday, with Wittman coming up with game plans for both possible opponents. Beal believes that closing out the Bulls at the first possible opportunity was good for the Wizards, not only from the physical aspect of gaining more rest, but also from a mental perspective.
“We gained a lot of confidence, because it was definitely a tough series,” Beal said. “No series is going to be easy, and we just seen what we’re capable of doing. Moving forward, we’ve got to continue to play the same way. We really can’t get too confident and too cocky about ourselves. No matter who we’re playing, no matter if we have homecourt, we still have to feel as if we have something to prove and we do, because we still haven’t accomplished anything. We just made it out of the first round. Many teams have made it out of the first round, doesn’t guarantee you anything. We know we’re capable of competing and playing at a high level. No matter who we play, we’re not going to back down.”