We’re here. They did it. Playoffs. Started with John Wall calling the playoffs “The Promised Land” and writing “Playoffs” on his shoes, and now the Wiz are facing Chicago in the first round starting on Sunday (because the Nets tanked and lost their last 2 games so they could play the Raptors in the first round instead of the Bulls.) Which is fine. Because the Wizards played the Bulls so much better than they played the Raptors this season. Lots of people, including your friendly Chicago blogger Big Cat, are not giving the Wiz a chance. Not even an ounce of a chance. I, however, am giving them a huge chance. Huge. They match up so well against Chicago it’s almost scary.
For starters, John Wall runs circles around Kirk Hinrich. Yes I know Chicago plays “team defense” blah blah blah, but at the end of the day, who do you want out there, John Wall, or Kirk Hinrich? Anyone at all or that nerd Mike Dunleavy? The Bulls are not athletic enough to stop the Wall/Beal combo.
Now, Chicago fans, I know. You have Joakim Noah. He’s a stud. However, the Wizards have Marcin Gortat, about whom Paul George of the Pacers said “is probably defensive player of the year. You couldn’t get nothing. He was just excellent at the rim.” Coupled with NeNe, and Trevor Booker who has come into his own, and the Wiz have the big guys to stifle the Bulls bigs.
The Wizards are more athletic, have solidified their depth with Andre Miller proving to be a very serviceable backup to Wall, and Al Harrington, Drew Gooden, and Martell Webster all giving the Wiz great minutes off the bench.
Where the Wizards falter is in experience and coaching. Wittman has been a terrible late-game coach all year. Terrible. And this is John Wall and Bradley Beale’s first playoff series. There will be nerves, especially playing in Chicago.
Nobody wants to give the Wiz a chance. I’m giving them a big chance. If they use their athleticism and don’t let the Bulls dictate the pace of the game, they can steal this series. See ya on Sunday, Chicago.
Game 1 in Chicago: Sunday, April 20, 7 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 2 in Chicago: Tuesday, April 22, 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 3 in Washington: Friday, April 25, 8 p.m., ESPN
Game 4 in Washington: Sunday, April 27, 1 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 5 in Chicago (if necessary): Tuesday, April 29
Game 6 in Washington (if necessary): Thursday, May 1
Game 7 in Chicago (if necessary): Saturday, May 3