Wizards loss gives a lesson in perspective
What would your reaction have been if I told you the Washington Wizards would be down three games to one to the Indiana Pacers in the second round of the playoffs at the All Star break? Most likely what would have jumped out at you was that the Wizards were in the second round. It would not have been a surprise that they were trailing in a series to the Pacers, because the Pacers looked like the best team in the league at that point and the Wizards were really just starting to put things together.
Unfortunately, we are not in the middle of February. We have seen three months of basketball since then. In those three months our opinion of the Pacers fell dramatically as they struggled to hold on to the top spot in the Eastern Conference. We watched as they struggled to get past an Atlanta Hawks team that really had no business even making the playoffs after losing more games than they won. We have also, in that stretch, watched the Wizards back-court duo of Bradley Beal and John Wall step into the spotlight. We saw the Wizards come together as a team and knock off the Chicago Bulls in the first round. Our perspective has changed.
Even though we all know the Wizards are still young at their core and they have already exceeded our preseason expectations, we are disappointed tonight. We are disappointed because we have seen a glimpse of what the future could be with this team and we want that future to be now. After game one it looked like the future was here. The Wizards handled the Pacers and came away with a win, but after two loses our perspective has changed again.
The Wizards held the lead for the majority of this game but did a win ever feel secure? No, because it was the bench players that kept the Wizards in front for most of the game. The veterans, Drew Gooden, Al Harrington, and Andre Miller, were out there going toe to toe with the East’s number one seed. The stars of last series, Nene and John Wall were riding the pine. Neither one able to contribute offensively like they should be. Like we expected them too. Bradley Beal was the only starter to really have a positive impact.
So, when Trevor Ariza throws the ball behind Beal coming off the screen at the end of the game when a three pointer would send it to overtime, it felt almost expected. The Wizards only lost by three points but because of the last two games it was as if we were waiting for the Wizards to lose, and would have been surprised if they had won. Of course we think this way, we are fans of Washington. We have come to expect being let down. The past failures of all the teams we love in the District have influenced our perspective.
I know the feeling of that pit in my stomach when I let my expectations get too high. But can I, for just a moment, forget that I am fan? Forget that I live and die in the moment and take a step back. If I can do that for just a moment, I can remember that before the playoffs we looked at the Wizards as a team on the rise. Not a team at the top. Not a team that had arrived. A team on the rise. I cannot forget the fandom for long, so I am still disappointed in the loss but by remembering that, by altering my perspective, I am not disappointed in the team.
They may lose the series in the next game but there is a good foundation here in DC and that still excites me. We have seen a glimpse of what the future can be and DC is on the rise.