Wizards enter All-Star break with momentum


The Wizards (28-30) are not where they would prefer to be in the standings as they enter the All-Star break, but they have to like the direction they are heading.

With a 20-point comeback win over the Timberwolves on Thursday night, they have won 10 of their last 14 games. Go back to their 10-game losing streak that spanned the middle of November to mid-December, when Daniel Gafford was put in the starting lineup, and the Wizards are 17-10.

That's 27 games, a third of the regular season, in which the Wizards have played with a .630 win percentage, in other words a 52-win pace. During this stretch, the Wizards have had the sixth-best net rating (+4.1) in the NBA with the seventh-best offense and 11th-best defense.

One of their biggest weaknesses earlier in the season was 3-point shooting, but that too has improved significantly. They shot 14-for-35 (40%) against the Timberwolves in Thursday's win, the 16th time in 18 games they have made double-digit threes. 

Going back to Jan. 8, 18 games across five weeks, the Wizards are 10th in the NBA in threes made per game (12.9). Go back to Nov. 10, three months and 47 games ago, Washington is 10th in the NBA in 3-point percentage (37.0). They started slow shooting the ball, but have rounded into form to one of the better outside shooting teams the last few months. 

The Wizards also have the schedule working in their favor. So far this season they have played the second-most road games. Conversely, they have the most home games left on their schedule. Of their final 24 games after the All-Star break, 15 of them will be at Capital One Arena.


March is where the Wizards could really make up some ground in the Eastern Conference standings. They will play 11 of their 16 games at home during what is the final full month of the regular season. The Wizards are 14-12 at home this season compared to 14-18 on the road.

Lately, though, they have been much better away from D.C., which is another encouraging sign for their playoff hopes. The Wizards have won 11 of their last 16 games on the road. They have won the most road games of any NBA team since Dec. 20.

Health continues to be a major success indicator for the Wizards this year. They had everyone available for Thurdsay night's game. The Wizards are now 13-4 in Bradley Beal's last 17 games and 7-2 in their last nine games with Beal, Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma on the floor.

Washington now gets a week off in between games with the Knicks at home up next on Feb. 24. They have considerable momentum at the moment and will just have to hope it carries over despite the layoff.

The Wizards are ninth in the Eastern Conference, just a half-game behind the eight-seed Atlanta Hawks. They have a chance to significantly improve their place in the standings if recent trends continue.