Currently sitting at a record of 7-12 after narrowly escaping Brooklyn 118-113, the Washington Wizards are entering their most important five-game stretch of the season.
After starting this stretch of five games by defeating the Nets, the Wizards’ will be facing the Orlando Magic, Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat. This will be one of the most winnable stretches of games for Wizards before they enter a tough 5-game stretch against the likes of the Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls.
More recently, the Washington Wizards have been a much more competitive basketball team and that is thanks to the resurgence of Bradley Beal. After returning from his injury, Bradley Beal has averaged 27.2 PPG on 50.3% shooting and is shooting 47.1% from three. A healthy and consistent Bradley Beal is exactly what the Wizards needed and during this upcoming stretch of games the Wizards will need Beal to continue his stellar play.
Unfortunately outside of second year man Kelly Oubre Jr who has been the only productive bench player as of late, the Wizards’ bench production still continues to be a problem. To put the Wizards’ bench production into perspective, they are the lowest-scoring bench in the league at 23.4 PPG. The bench production will be one of the more important aspects for the Wizards during this stretch of games. Head coach Scott Brooks will need to be able to put together a reliable bench lineup that will secure and possibly expand leads for the Wizards.
The starters for the Wizards have shown they are more than capable of staying competitive in games, which showed true in two very close games against the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. In those two games alone it was prevalent that the main source of the loss came from lack of bench production and not knowing how to play while holding the lead late.
Similar to how the Cavs handle Lebron James, one theory the Wizards’ and coach Scott Brooks should look at doing is, sit John Wall early in the 1st quarter and play him with the reserves to start the 2nd quarter. This would allow John Wall to work with a struggling bench unit and make scoring so much easier for those around him. One of the main problems with the Wizards’ bench is they still don’t have an established ball handler or playmaker. Wall would thrive against a backup guard and would almost automatically put some life into a struggling 2nd unit for the Wizards.
Another possible solution would be play Otto Porter with the reserves. Otto Porter is having a career season for the Wizards and is averaging 14.6 PPG, 8.3 RPG and is shooting 52.7% from the floor. Porter is often the forgotten man on offense at times and could really thrive in a leadership role with the reserves.
As for right now, the Washington Wizards are a team that is still searching for their identity and relevance in the Eastern conference and must come out of this 5-game stretch 4-1, at the very least. Let’s hope the Wizards are aware of the importance of their next 5 games, because it is one of the more winnable stretches they will see.