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Are playoffs still a realistic goal for Wizards?

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Are playoffs still a realistic goal for Wizards?

Remember that hilariously famous clip of Jim Mora’s post-game press conference back in 2001? The one in which the outspoken former head coach was asked if his 4-6 Indianapolis Colts had a chance of making the NFL playoffs?

Playoffs?” Mora shrieked. Don’t talk about — playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game!”

No one has been bold enough to bring up the word playoffs to Wizards coach Randy Wittman lately. Not with his team holding the NBA’s worst record [0-8] heading into tonight’s home game against the Indiana Pacers.

But it was less than a month ago that Wittman and general manager Ernie Grunfeld were fielding questions about whether this year’s Wizards were capable of getting into the post-season.

Now they’re facing an uphill climb that seems like Mount Everest.

“It’s tough,” said point guard A.J. Price. “But this is the NBA. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy by any stretch. We just need to keep on fighting, keep on playing. Never say die attitude. Never quit, never give in.”

At 0-8 the Wizards are already four games behind the eighth-place Charlotte Bobcats for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Last season the Philadelphia 76ers were the last team in the East to get into the post-season with a record of 35-31, four games over .500.

To finish with a record four games over .500 the Wizards would need to play 12 games over .500 the remainder of the season. That means they’d have to go 43-31 in their final 74 games.

Is that possible? The Wizards believe it is, especially if they get John Wall and Nene back from injuries within the next few weeks.

“We’re still playing for something,” Shaun Livingston said. “In the East, especially, we’re not totally out of it. We just gotta get a win on the board so we can relax and play basketball.”

The Wizards have been competitive in each of their eight losses, but have been outscored 179-153 in fourth quarters and 12-6 in overtime. In their last five losses the disparity has been even greater, with opponents outscoring the Wizards 119-82 in the fourth quarter. That’s an average margin of 7.4 points.

“I think we could have won more than half our games,” rookie guard Bradley Beal said. “That’s just my opinion. Our intensity is there, our competitiveness is there. Everything we need to do is there all the way up to the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter is what really kills us.”

Point guard A.J. Price said the Wizards can no longer afford moral victories. They need to get in the win column to start building confidence.

“It’s too long of a season to feel like that,” he said when asked about taking positives from losses. “If we ever get to that point it’s really over. We’re 0-8 now. We can’t have that type of attitude. We need to continue to try to get better, try to stick with it and have confidence and belief that next game will be the game we win.”

Jordan Crawford, who leads the team with 12.4 points a game, agreed.

“We can’t be down on ourselves,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of games to go. Teams aren’t going to come here and make it easy for us.”

 

 

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Chris Paul is reportedly recruiting LeBron James to the Rockets, which would change East dramatically

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Chris Paul is reportedly recruiting LeBron James to the Rockets, which would change East dramatically

Next to actually signing LeBron James himself, there is another scenario involving the NBA's best player that should sound great to Eastern Conference teams. That is if James decides to leave the conference altogether for a team in the West, and it sounds like Chris Paul is trying to make that dream come true.

Paul, according to ESPN, is actively recruiting James to join the Houston Rockets. The Rockets won an NBA-best 65 games in the 2017-18 season and fell one win short of reaching the NBA Finals.

Here is what Adrian Wojnarowski said as transcribed by Pro Basketball Talk:

Chris is going to return there. And listen, right now, Chris Paul’s focus isn’t so much on his own free agency. He’s trying to recruit LeBron James to Houston, and somebody close to him said to me he is as focused on recruiting LeBron as anything he’s done in this league. He wants to find a way.

There's no doubt Houston would give James an opportunity to contend and maybe even win championships. They were up 3-2 on the Warriors in the conference finals before losing the final two games. Paul missed the last two games of the series due to injury.

If the Rockets were that close without James, adding him would likely push them over the hump. Even with the Warriors being as good as they are, the Rockets would be a super team on a level rarely seen in NBA history. James and Rockets guard James Harden are the two frontrunners for MVP. Then there's Paul, a perennial All-NBA guard who is a surefire Hall of Famer once his playing days are over.

If James went West, that would break the streak of his teams winning the Eastern Conference playoff bracket eight years in a row. The conference would be more wide open than it has been in nearly a decade, giving teams like the Sixers, Celtics, Raptors, Wizards and others a better shot at reaching the Finals.

One alternative is James leaving Cleveland to form another titan within the East. That could happen if he goes to Philly or Boston or somewhere else with some pieces already in place. It's conceivable that James stays in the East and does so with a team that is much better than the Cavs squad he led to the Finals this past season.

On the face of it, James would probably be smart to not go to Houston. As good as the Rockets are and as stacked as they would be if he joined them, he would then subject himself to battling the Warriors in the conference finals or earlier. If winning is his No. 1 goal, he is better off continuing to dominate the East and focus on improving his chances of beating the Warriors once he sees them in the Finals.

Still, Paul can dream. And if James does go West, no one in the East will complain.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Full 2018 NBA Draft preview for Wizards fans, including an interview with Robert Williams

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Full 2018 NBA Draft preview for Wizards fans, including an interview with Robert Williams

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller talked all things NBA Draft.

They gave their picks for the best options for the Wizards, the safest and riskiest prospects, plus what they expect the team to do. Texas A&M big man Robert Williams also joined the show in a 1-on-1 interview.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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