The Washington Wizards (43-38) are going to the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2008 where they lost to the Lebron-led Cleveland Cavaliers 4-2 in the first round. Led by two young up-and-coming stars in starting point guard John Wall and starting shooting guard, former Gator Bradley Beal, the Wizards will look to win their first playoff series since 2005 when they defeated Chicago in the first round before being swept in the conference semifinals by the eventual champion Miami Heat.
Here on the last day of the NBA regular season, there are still many questions the Wizards face as they could finish as high as the five-seed or as low as the seven-seed depending on the outcome of several games tonight. According to Bradley Beal, the team does not care what seed they end up with as they are solely focused on their team and what they need to do to win.
“Any team is capable of doing the same thing, no matter who we play, it will be a tough assignment,” Beal said. “I’m going to have the same mentality playing against Miami, Chicago, Toronto, or Indiana, it doesn’t matter. We’re all, as a team, going to come in with the same mentality that we’re going to play hard every night and take it game-by-game and go try to win a series.”
After spending one year at the University of Florida during the 2011-2012 season, Beal noticed a big maturity leap in his personal life and his overall game play which he attributes directly to Gator coach Billy Donovan.
“Coach Donovan is a great coach, one of the best I ever played for,” Beal said. “His system and his style of play matured me, made me grow up as a man and be prepared, not just for basketball, but for life outside of basketball and I definitely give a lot of credit to him because he brought me in and didn’t guarantee me anything and pushed me to be the man I am today.”
Beal is second on the team averaging 17 points per game in only his second year in the league trailing only Wall’s 19.4 points per game. While the two are known for their offensive presence on the court, Wall is quick to point to the real strength of the team, defense.
“Main thing we do when we’re not making shots, in the past, we get down and don’t play defense on the other end,” Wall said. “We just keep preaching and trying to tell guys if you’re not making shots, you still have a whole half or three quarters to make shots and if you keep playing defense, you give yourself a chance.”
Although today is the last day of the regular season, Washington’s playoff future is still very murky. The Wizards wrap up the regular season tonight on the road against the Boston Celtics (25-56). A win for the Wizards and a loss by the Brooklyn Nets (44-37) to the Cleveland Cavaliers (32-49) will secure the five-seed for the Wizards. If both the Nets and Wizards win, Washington will secure the six-seed. A loss by the Wizards and win for the Charlotte Bobcats (42-39) over the Chicago Bulls (48-33) would hand the Wizards the seven-seed with a difficult first round match-up against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat (54-27).
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