In order for the Wizards, or any other team for matter, to get out of the Eastern Conference and into the NBA Finals, they will have to get past the Cleveland Cavaliers. All non-Cleveland teams know that, given the Cavs have won the conference in each of the last two years and last summer won it all.
On Wednesday, though, the Cavaliers lost All-Star forward Kevin Love for six weeks due to arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He should be back for the playoffs, but that sets the Cavs back at a crucial time.
The Wizards, for instance, are third in the conference at 33-21. They are just 4 1/2 games back from Cleveland. If the Cavs slip up, the Wizards could conceivably catch them over the next mont and a half.
Wizards guard Bradley Beal, for one, took notice.
"We have a great opportunity ahead of us. You never wish any bad upon any player. I wish for a speedy recovery for Kev. But it's definitely a great opportunity for us. We're going to continue to play the way we've been playing and be aggressive. After the All-Star break, there's only like 20 games left. The teams are trying to make moves," he said.
If the Wizards haven't even won their division since 1978-79. To take the top seed in the conference would be brand new territory for this group of players.
Beal doesn't think it's a crazy idea at all.
"That should be our goal. It's possible. Sometimes coming into your season that's not your main objective, to be the top seed, but when you have an opportunity in front of you, why not go for it? I think we have a great chance in front of us. There are still other teams, but we know the way we've been playing and with the confidence we have, we know we can move up."