NBA Daily Preview, January 25: Celtics Funeral

A ridiculous stunt helped the Wizards on their quest for both wins and attention

I don’t think it’s mean to say that the Wizards’ “funeral game” (where they asked fans to wear all black) last night was a little ridiculous. It pretty clearly was ridiculous, but it’s also the kind of stunt that can add a lot of flair and meaning to a regular season that often lacks these things. They also won, which helps a lot. At a game behind the fourth-place Hawks, and a game and a half behind the third-place Celtics, this Washington team is making people forget about its horrendous start with every passing day.

I also like some of the players’ reactions (from the NBA.com recap). From Bradley Beal:

‘’We just wanted to have fun, man,’’ he insisted afterward. ‘’That’s all we were doing. Nothing personal. Of course it was a subliminal (message), but we were just having fun at the end of the day.’’

I have to admire the competitive spirit here from Washington. Pulling off a stunt like this would look completely ridiculous if they had lost last night. It’s not hard to envision Isaiah Thomas subtly saying as much in a postgame interview, or Twitter exploding with the pictures and memes that it feeds off of. The Celtics are also a clearly better team by most metrics, so putting so much emphasis on a losable game is a pretty bold move.

Regardless, Washington is primed to make the playoffs, and could even challenge for home-court advantage in the first round. I’ve written about this team several times, and I normally come back to being impressed that they’ve fought their way back into the mid-upper tier of the East. There’s still a lot of season left, and a lot of space for this team to keep going.

Predictions

2–0 last night, 2–2 for the week. There are two games on ESPN tonight:

Golden State at Charlotte: Golden State

If there’s a time to pick against the Warriors, it’s on a road trip like this one. Golden State is coming off a loss to Miami, and the Hornets have been a respectable team this year. However, it’s unlikely that the Warriors lose two games in such a short time, and I expect them to be a little more alert and focused after the Heat loss.

Los Angeles (Lakers) at Portland: Portland

Although these two teams have slightly similar records, I expect Portland to win pretty easily. For every game that they’ve struggled in, the Lakers have struggled even more, and this Los Angeles team is doing everything it can to keep its pick by finishing in the bottom three. Although the Blazers are hardly an elite team, they should win tonight at home.

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