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Keeler: Expect a wild finish

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Tommy Keeler


All of the talk in the NBA these past few weeks have centered around the Miami Heat and their streak. Don't get me wrong, they deserved it. Even though the streak came to an end on Wedenesday, winning 27 straight games is a pretty remarkable feat. The Heat will win the NBA title this year (I know I'm going out on a huge limb there) and this year's team is one of the greatest of all time.

Of course, there's also the Denver Nuggets, who won 15 straight until losing on Monday night. Impressive, but if you look closely at the standings you'll see another team that deserves to start getting a little attention -- the Washington Wizards.

OK, you can stop laughing now.

The Wizards have won seven of their last 11 games, which is tied for third-best in the league over an 11-game span.

They are also still mathematically alive to make the playoffs, which is pretty amazing considering the start they got off to.

The Wizards, at 26-45, are 8 1/2 games out of the eighth spot with 11 games left in the season. OK, so I have a better chance of winning the lottery or going on a date with Maria Sharapova than they do of making the postseason.

They will miss the playoffs, but they are only two games out of the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference. It's been quite a while since they have even come close to the playoffs.

Remember when everyone was excited that the Wizards had drafted John Wall? Well, I think it's time to get excited about it again. In a 107-94 victory over Memphis on Monday night, Wall had 47 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. The Wizards only dressed nine players for the game due to injuries, but that can work when you have a superstar like Wall.

He may be turning into one of the best point guards in the NBA before our eyes. Wall is averaging 16.8 points, 7.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game this season.

Wall has some solid players around him, such as Emeka Okafor, Nene, Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza. The last three are all battling injuries right now, and they're not big-time players, but they're solid, good players.

Something certainly is going right for the Wizards these days. They are eighth in the NBA in rebounding, and sixth in points allowed. Of course, they're 28th in points per game.
Wall is great, but there's no question he needs some help in terms of scoring. Maybe this year's draft will bring that. Typically, the Wizards end up with a lower pick and then can't get a big-time player even when they have the worst record. Maybe this year, having a little better record will somehow land them one of the best picks.

One thing is clear to me -- they need to keep head coach Randy Wittman. The Wizards started out 0-12, and keep in mind that Wall missed the first part of the season with an injury.

Since then they are 26-33, and while those aren't great numbers they're still better than what they have been the last decade.

Wittman has done a great job keeping this team together, and getting them to play team basketball and good solid defense.

The Wizards beat the Los Angeles Lakers last week, and have many quality victories this season. They have defeated New York, Denver, Oklahoma City, the L.A. Clippers and even Miami.

If the Wizards can just get a couple more players who can add a little offensive spark, they just might be back to being a respectable team, and one that no one will take lightly.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com




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