When his players returned from the all-star break for Monday’s late-night practice, Coach Randy Wittman tried to stress the importance of avoiding a slippage in play and focus for the final push. The Wizards have let a few games get away from them through the first 52 and they don’t have much more wiggle room for continued lapses.
“There is no problem getting focused, now,” Wittman said. “We’ve got 30 games left and we’re fighting here in the thick of a playoff race. These guys are focused on these last 30. Eight weeks and it’s over.”
The Wizards (25-27) are sixth in the Eastern Conference but are only three games from being in third place. They are also three games from being out of the playoff picture altogether.
“This is it. There’s no more breaks or nothing else,” John Wall said. “So we can be in a good position or a bad position.”
Washington will start the second half against Atlantic Division-leading Toronto and Atlanta, two teams that are head of them in standings. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” Wittman said. “Thirty games left. We could win these two and take games off and it’s going to cost you the same. You don’t look at who it is, you’ve got to be ready for 30 games. That’s what I want them thinking. We’ve got to focus on us and being ready to play.”
Another loss to the Raptors, however, could be damaging. Toronto is one of two Eastern Conference teams that the Wizards have yet to claim a win against this season – Indiana is the other – and currently has a 2-0 lead in the season series. The Raptors beat the Wizards, 96-88, on Nov. 22, when Wall had a season high 37 points. And they thrashed the Wizards, 101-88, when the teams met at Verizon Center on Jan. 3. In that game, the Raptors led by 27 points in the second half.
“We’ve got to pick it up,” Bradley Beal said. “Only 30 games left and we’re talking about seeding now. We know we’re going to be a playoff team. In order to do that, we’ve got to win games.”
(TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus. Radio: WFED-1500).
Here’s some reading to help you get ready for the game: