But think about it. If they had another 50- or 52-game sprint that opened in late December, then Wall and Nene
begin the season healthy, and this town is buzzing about a potential playoff team.
Of course Wall thinks about that, right?
“Woulda been nice because we wouldn’t [have] had the injury problem, but we’re not saying we can’t make the playoffs,” Wall said late Tuesday afternoon from Salt Lake City, where the Wizards face the Jazz on Wednesday night. “I know it’s very way out of the way to make the playoffs, thinking you can make it. But we’re not giving up on the season, point-blank, that’s what I’m saying. We go into every game still thinking we got a shot to make it.”
Coach Randy Wittman concurred: “I don’t foresee us giving up on the idea [of the playoffs]. Even when things were really bad, when we started like we did, I never had that moment where I had go back in the office and tell my assistants, ‘Gee, we got to do something to make sure they don’t quit.’ Every night they go out there and fight their [behinds] off.
“Now they finally see light at the end of the tunnel. Where does that lead us this year? I don’t know,” he continued. “But we got to keep building. I told ’em, ‘Let’s see what we can do the last half of the season.’ That’s where we’re at.”
Look, it’s nearly impossible for the Wizards to entertain even one crazy thought about the postseason after that putrid start. But a man screamed “Dagger!!!” at the top of his lungs Monday night, and — miracle of miracles — it wasn’t a rerun of Comcast SportsNet’s Steve Buckhantz calling a game from 2007 or 2005.
Live, Pacific time, Jordan Crawford uncorked a rainbow from the left wing that beat Portland at the buzzer, a three-pointer that sent grown men into each other’s arms, bowling over one another like kids, and Buckhantz with his signature game’s-in-the-bank call.
In the middle of an 82-game grind, in the middle of a West Coast swing that saw them knock off the Nuggets in Denver and stay within a point of the Clippers until the final 90 seconds — in the middle of a two-act season that is weirdly both over and just beginning — the Wizards suddenly matter.
The organization kept pleading with everyone to wait until their two best players were remotely healthy before judging the team and prematurely firing the coach, the architect, and making the owner rethink the definition of “rebuild.”
Declaring things fixed after two weeks of aesthetically appeasing ball is equally premature.
But the difference Wall makes, competitively and psychologically, can’t be disputed. He wants it. He didn’t like the Wizards becoming an industry joke again while he missed the season’s first 32 games because of a knee injury, and he doesn’t like the idea that he isn’t thought of as a great young player anymore among league observers.