Coach Randy Wittman has already let it be known that “fairy dust” will not fall upon the Wizards and ensure that they’ll never lose another game if they can, somehow, miraculously, finally get over .500 this season. But if the Wizards are able to defeat the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night, the victory could give the team a significant shot of confidence before embarking on a four-game road trip to Phoenix, Utah, Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers.
“It’ll probably boost it sky-high,” Bradley Beal said.
The Wizards have tried to avoid discussing the topic of getting over .500, but realize that the question will continue to be asked until it finally happens. John Wall has played the third-most games (224) of any No. 1 overall pick without ever having a winning record, behind Joe Smith (241) and Michael Olowakandi (227), and he has scoffed whenever the subject is broached.
After the Wizards beat the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, Wall admitted that he has tried to avoid letting it affect him. “All I’m going to do is think about it in my sleep and then just try to go out there and play the right way we’ve been playing,” Wall said. “Just go out there and play basketball, that’s the main thing I think. We had a great opportunity the other day to get it and now we got another chance on Wednesday with a good Boston team.”
The Celtics have lost 12 of 13 after suffering another defeat on Tuesday in Miami, but the Wizards (20-20) can’t overlook any opponent after losing to lowly Milwaukee at home in overtime on Dec. 6 when they had their second chance to get above .500 this season. They have also failed twice this month against Dallas and Detroit.
“Just knowing this is our fourth time getting there, knowing we’ve had opportunities to do so, and we got a great opportunity,” Beal said. “It’s not going to easy by no means. We’ve definitely got to come out focused, ready to go from the jump and hopefully we can get over the hump.”
The Wizards are 10-10 at home this season and 10-10 on the road but have let down their guard several times at Verizon Center. They have won three out of four at home after starting this month with four straight home losses.
“Even though we are playing better on the road, we still got to make sure we secure those wins at home. We got to start winning at home,” Marcin Gortat said. “If we’re talking about playoffs, you can’t lose games at all. Second of all, you can’t disappoint our fans. You can have teams like Milwaukee and Philly coming in here and punking us right in front of our home crowd. That’s not fun at all. You feel embarrassed. You got fans coming up to you, you’re playing well, you’re looking good and you know that they’re trying to be nice but in the back of your head you know you embarrassed yourself. You just can’t embarrass your fans, they come here to watch basketball on the highest level. They play a lot of money for tickets, so you’ve just got to bring it.”
After Boston, three of the Wizards’ next four opponents have winning records and are currently in the Western Conference playoff picture. Utah has the worst record in the West but has won eight games at home, including wins over Chicago, Houston and Oklahoma City.
“I want to get a win every time we go out and play. It’ll be nice to end this [homestand] 4-1 and go out,” Wittman said. “This is no different than the first game of these five. We feel we’ve got some things going with what we have to do and how we play. Once you can get that consistency level going, that’s what I want these guys to focus on.”