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Wizards complete biggest turnaround from 2-8 start in NBA history

Wizards complete biggest turnaround from 2-8 start in NBA history

The Wizards clinching their division and a playoff berth after beginning the 2016-17 season 2-8 is nothing short of amazing. It is, in fact, the biggest regular season turnaround from 2-8 in NBA history.

With their win over the Pistons in Detoit on Monday night, Washington became the first team ever to reach 49 wins after starting a season 2-8. They broke a tie with the 1992-93 Boston Celtics, who won 48 games after starting 2-8.

First, some notes on those Celtics. That was the first year they played without Larry Bird, who had retired in August before the season began. The roster still featured Hall of Famers Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, though at Age 35 and 39, respectively. And Boston's first win after starting 2-8 just happened to come against the Bullets.

The Wizards' turnaround has been made possible by several things. For one, John Wall has fully recovered from his two offseason knee surgeries. In the first few weeks of the season he was on a minutes restriction and was not allowed to play both games of back-to-backs. He also was not in 100 percent game shape.

In the time since they were 2-8, the Wizards have improved their roster in a few ways. They traded for Bojan Bogdanovic at the deadline, they signed Brandon Jennings in free agency and they got Ian Mahinmi back from his own knee injuries.

Along the way Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat have played some of the best basketball of their careers. And several members of their bench have improved over the course of the season like Jason Smith and Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Head coach Scott Brooks also deserves lot of credit, of course. He saw the Wizards through some very tough times in his first year on the job.

Add it all up and the Wizards have turned a terrible start into history.

[RELATED: Tougher matchup for Wizards: Cavs or Celtics?]

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Ted Leonsis maintains optimism amid harsh reality of John Wall injury

Ted Leonsis maintains optimism amid harsh reality of John Wall injury

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- It might be quite a while before we see John Wall on the court playing for the Wizards again.

It was already well-known Wall will miss extended time as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon, a rehab that usually takes at least 11 months. But it is starting to sound more and more like he won't play in the 2019-20 season at all.

Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis shared that harsh reality on Monday during a press conference at Capital One Arena.

"Our highest-paid player, our five-time All-Star, may not play at all next year. He probably won't play at all next year," Leonsis said.

If Wall follows the general timeline for the surgery, he could come back sometime early in 2020. A 12-month recovery would have him return in early February.

If Wall missed all of next season, he would return to start the 2020-21 campaign after a 20-month recovery. That would be nearly double the rehab time many players have taken for the same injury over the years. He would be 30 years old by then.

But Wall and the Wizards have reason to be extra patient. He is entering the first season of a four-year, $170 million supermax contract. Punting the first year, even if he is making $38 million, could be worth it in the long run if it means he returns to his All-Star form.

The Wizards are also likely to have a gap year of sorts anyways. They retooled their roster with young, inexperienced players. The odds they make the playoffs this season are lower than they have been in years. The Wizards are taking the long view and they know getting Wall's rehab right is paramount.

Leonsis and team officials currently get daily reports on Wall's progress. After making the supermax investment, they are taking extra measures to ensure he is holding up his end of the bargain. The Wizards closely monitor his weight and have a rotation of physical therapists working with him every day.

If it were up to Wall, he would be more likely to return next season. The team is the side taking extra caution.

"Trust me, nobody wants to get back to the court more than John Wall," GM Tommy Sheppard told NBC Sports Washington. 

"But I've tried to manage this with him and say there is no calendar or clock that is going to tell you to come back. You're going to come back when you're 100 percent healthy. Anybody who has watched him in the playoffs play with broken hands and all of the aches and pains he's had over the years and he still showed up and played at a high, high level. You know you need to monitor him a little more than most. That's the kind of player that is going to try to sneak back on the court any time he can."

What Leonsis said publicly has been the belief behind the scenes in the Wizards organization for quite some time. They are preparing for next season as if he won't play, 

"We have to see if John Wall comes back and how he looks and how he plays," Leonsis told NBC Sports Washington. "If John Wall can come back at 80 percent the year after [in 2020-21], I would be really happy because then we would have a great, great backcourt."

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SPOILER ALERT! Wizards make appearance in New York Times crossword on Sunday

SPOILER ALERT! Wizards make appearance in New York Times crossword on Sunday

Fans of both crossword puzzles and the Washington Wizards had a leg-up when completing the New York Times crossword puzzle on Sunday. 

The clue: "Wizards, but not witches."

The answer: 7 letters, "NBATEAM." 

This isn't the first time famous crosswords have included sports-related clues. The Washington Post and LA Times have used Bobby Orr as an answer many of times (trust me, we always have a half-finished crossword puzzle hiding somewhere in our living room). 

But athletes aren't the only answers to clues. Remember when the Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan revealed the Washington Capitals' "cult of crossword men" back in 2016?

The New York Times even published a list of the top-10 sports names to know for crossword fanatics everywhere. 

Just further proof that sports continue to permeate every aspect of life. 

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