There are two numbers that matter most to the Wizards, and that's 50 and two. Bradley Beal has his sights set on both after opening a five-game road trip with wins in a back-to-back.
The Wizards (39-24), who haven't won 50 or more games since 1979, have been perfect in four consecutive back-to-backs after Wednesday's 123-113 rout of the Denver Nuggets.
"It was a goal of mine coming into the year for the team to get 50 wins. Be a playoff team again. We're on track for it," said Bradley Beal, who had 23 points and five assists. "That won't make us. That won't define us as a team to be a part of history, having a 50-win season. I think we have the team to be able to do so. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't."
With two more wins, the Wizards will equal their total from a 41-41 non-playoff season a year ago. They play at the Sacramento Kings and at the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday and Saturday. They end the trip Monday at the Minnesota Timberwolves.
They're No. 3 in the East and tied in the loss column with the No. 2 Boston Celtics (41-24), who beat the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday. To unseat Boston, the Wizards have to play better defensively than they've started on this trip because they have the tougher schedule to end the season.
The pivotal game to decide the season series, which will be crucial if there's a tie at the end of the season with the Celtics, is March 20 at TD Garden.
"I think it's important especially if we make it out the first round having that home court in the second round and see where you go after that," Beal said of the No. 2 spot behind the Cleveland Cavaliers. "We love our chances. Our job is to win. Where it puts us a the end of the year, we'll let the chips fall where they may."
In the Wizards' two playoff seasons in 2014 and '15, they were a No. 5 seed so they opened on the road and didn't have home court. Still, they pulled off upsets of the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors but ran into the No. 1 seed in the East in the second round to end their run.
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By finishing as high as No. 2, they could avoid the Cavs until the conference finals if everything in the earlier rounds go according to plan.
The Wizards have been an offensive juggernaut. In beating the Nuggets and Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, they've scored 254 points. But those teams don't defend like the Celitcs and are among the NBA's worst defenses.
Denver shot 53% overall (46 of 87), including 46.4% from three (13 of 28). The Suns shot 50%, making 44 of 88 shots that included 13 of 27 three-pointers (48.1%).
"We got to find a way when we get up 20-something points," said John Wall, who had 30 points and 10 assists vs. Denver. "Our defense started to (lag). Not playing with the sense of urgency that we played to get to that lead. That's something that we have to figure out, do a better job of because when we get to the playoffs you want to be able to get those guys out of the way and not give them any life. We gave them a little bit of life."
The Nuggets never regained the lead after falling behind by 24 points. But they made it more tense than it had to be late on several occassions. Phoenix erased a 22-point deficit, took an 11-point lead and eventually lost.
The Wizards recently had to come back from 17 points down to beat the Orlando Magic, a team that's not in their class.
So while a win is a win, they have to develop better habits with three road games left at the Sacramento Kings, at the Portland Trail Blazers and at the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"We just had some slippage on defense again," Beal said. "It almost cost us."