The Washington Wizards lost to the Chicago Bulls 115-114 on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from the game...
1. In Wizards World these days, wins are losses and losses are wins. Their draft lottery odds are paramount. The future is not now, the future in a way hinges on the night of May 14 when the ping-pong balls start flying.
So, though the Wizards lost on Wednesday to a lowly Bulls team that is ravaged by injuries, that could be for the best. They entered the day tied in losses with three other teams. Each loss helps their chances.
2. Though there was a stated effort in recent days and weeks to scale back Bradley Beal's minutes, it wasn't until Wednesday that we saw the Wizards come out with a defined plan to limit his floor time and stick to it. Beal logged only 22 minutes, his fewest since Nov. 30.
That is, of course, the right thing to do. Beal has played more minutes than anyone this season and is on pace to play in all 82 games for the second straight year. The Wizards do not need to win games, and Beal needs a break. The only thing that plan could affect is his numbers, with All-NBA a possibility. But he still managed 19 points and four rebounds.
3. Few Wizards players have as much riding on these last few games as Jabari Parker, and he had a bit of a setback against the Bulls. Parker departed in the second quarter with a left knee sprain and did not return. He left with only two points on 0-for-5 shooting in 12 minutes.
It makes sense Parker wouldn't return, even if the injury is far from serious. He has a history of knee problems and is just three games away from the offseason. This summer he is likely to hit free agency with a team option for 2019-20 the Wizards are basically a lock to not pick up. He needs to play it safe, even if it drops his scoring average down a tick.
4. Trevor Ariza was once again a no-show due to the groin strain that has bothered him for weeks now. Ariza, in fact, may have played his last game as a Wizard.
That's because the Wizards have shut him down for the season, or at least probably will according to head coach Scott Brooks. That effectively means he's done with just three games to go.
Ariza is an upcoming free agent, and the change in front office leadership could mean he's gone. He could simply want to head elsewhere based on the money the Wizards have available to offer him or the potential to join a contender.
5. Jeff Green was absent again for the third straight game. For him, it isn't an injury. He was listed as out due to rest, but Brooks hasn't offered many specifics.
Like Ariza, Green is due to hit free agency. Brooks hasn't indicated Green is done for the year, but it's possible he has also played his last game in a Washington uniform.
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