If you had a couple guesses as to which Eastern Conference team had the best record since December 1, what would you say?
You’d probably start off with the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
But you’d be wrong.
Maybe then you’d go with the Boston Celtics or Toronto Raptors.
But you’d be wrong there too.
Shockingly, the Eastern Conference club with the best record over the last two months has been the Washington Wizards.
As in the 27-20 Washington Wizards, who are 5.5 games out of first place in the Eastern standings.
Winners of eight of their last 10 games, Washington has gone 21-9 in their last 30 games since the start of December (10-5 in December, 11-4 so far this month).
Since December 6, their offense has become one of the league’s best with the seventh-highest offensive rating during that stretch (110.1 points per 100 possessions), and their defense has become one of the stingiest (fifth in the NBA at 105.0 points per 100 allowed).
They’ve also won 14-straight games at home, which is a franchise record.
For a team that started 6-11, that’s quite a turnaround.
So what happened?
TNT’s David Aldridge asked John Wall that exact question.
“Everybody just looked themselves in the mirror and challenged themselves to be better,” Wall told Aldridge on the way to the airport Sunday night. “I had to get in better shape so I can be better at both ends of the floor. When I’m in shape I can be aggressive and create shots for everybody and be active on defense, and that helps us as a team.”
First-year head coach Scott Brooks has gotten the most out of his starting five, especially the three guys other than John Wall and Bradley Beal, who were expected to turn in great seasons.
Wall is putting up 22.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 10.3 assists per game while Beal is averaging 21.8 points per contest in the co-star role.
However, the production and ascension of Otto Porter Jr. (who is putting up a career-high 14.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game) and Markieff Morris (who’s averaging 14.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest) has been paramount to the success of the club.
Veteran center Marcin Gortat has also been a force, averaging a double-double with 11.5 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.
Outside of the starting five, Brooks hasn’t been able to trust his bench for much consistent production, but with such a cohesive unit on the floor, he hasn’t needed to depend on the reserves for much.
What should scare the Eastern Conference is that this team is built and being coached specifically for a playoff run, when rotations are skewed more towards playing starters extended minutes.
An injury to someone in the starting five would certainly create a hiccup, but as of right now, Wall, Beal and company are on a roll and are looking to keep the positivity going throughout the rest of the season.
Should the Cavaliers and the rest of the East be worried?
Probably.News Now - Sport News