The consensus, it appears to be nationally, is that the Wizards won't be as good as last season's team, which came a waved off shot at the buzzer from Paul Pierce to force Game 7 in the conference semifinals with the No. 1 seed Atlanta Hawks. The lack of national TV games is the first indication.
"No I'm used to it," said John Wall, in his sixth season. "They'll be able to watch us in the playoffs. That's the only time they're going to watch us anyway, seems like."
If it weren't for Wall breaking his left hand and wrist in that series with Atlanta, the Wizards would've have advanced to the conference finals.
When Wall was a rookie in 2010, after he was the No. 1 pick, his first game was national. They were trounced by a 29-point margin at the Orlando Magic, who they open against Wednesday (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m. ET).
"My first couple years we had one (national) game. That was my first game. After that we had no more until I made the playoffs, said Wall, referring to 2013-14 when they upset the Chicago Bulls in the first round and pushed the No. 1 Indiana Pacers to six games in the semifinals. "It's something you're used to. You can get us on League Pass (nationally), I guess."
The first national game that's scheduled isn't until Feb. 9 at the New York Knicks. Last season, with Pierce, the Wizards were featured on Christmas Day in Madison Square Garden. They routed Carmelo Anthony's team.
"You know the Lakers are going to have them because they have Kobe (Bryant). That's understandable," said Wall, a two-time All-Star who finished second in the NBA in assists with 10.0. "The Knicks going to have it because it's the Garden and you have Melo. And we just sit in the back of the bus."
Of course, the narrative that the Wizards will come unhinged without Pierce sounds a bit comical. With Trevor Ariza as the starting small forward, the Wizards won 44 games and earned a No. 5 seed two years ago. Last season, they won 46 games with Pierce and had the same seeding. And they advanced to the same point, their season ending on May 15 (the same date).
While it's unknown who'll be the big-shot maker when the postseason comes, for right now it's safe to predict that the Wizards will at least match what they've done recently. Though with the addition of Gary Neal, Jared Dudley and Alan Anderson, they're deeper than they've ever been on the wings.
"We had, like, two more games when he came so it wasn't a big difference then," Wall said. "We added two games because we added Paul. ... We got to go out there and play basketball and don't worry about being on TV."
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