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Actual, Non-Ironically Cheerful Wizards News

Since both Michael Lee and I publicly wondered about this yesterday, I called the Elias Sports Bureau this morning with an important question: What is the longest losing streak an NBA team has ever taken into the playoffs? The Wiz, you'll recall, are working on a six-game shiner right now, with a somewhat legit chance to run that number up to 10, with two remaining road games plus home games against two likely playoff teams.

The Elias Sports Bureau, which knows everything and could probably tell you the meaning of life if you asked, promptly responded to my request. The longest losing streak entering the playoffs? Six games, from the '88-'89 Golden State Warriors. Why is this actual, non-ironic, cheerful news? Three reasons.

Manute Bol, inextricably tied to D.C.

1) Washington could make history.

2) Look at the roster of that Golden State team. Just an absurd number of familiar faces, from NBA rookie of the year Mitch Richmond, to forward (!) Manute Bol (who led the league in blocked shots), to leading three-point shooter Rod Higgins. I mean, that's a Wizznutzz's dream, right there.

3) More importantly, look more closely at what that team did down the stretch. A two-point overtime loss to the Clippers. A four-point loss to Sacramento. A seven-point overtime loss to Seattle, followed by a four-point loss to Seattle. Close game after close game after close game.

This was a Golden State team with offensive excess (third in the league in scoring, with Chris Mullin and Chris Richmond the highest scoring duo in the league). But it was a team of defensive disasters (last in the league in scoring defense). And the Warriors' late-season nosedive--they were 12-18 in March and April--gave them the seventh seed in the West.

So we take this high-scoring, low-defense team, this team filled with past and future Bullets/Wizards, this team whose glut of close, late-season losses gave them a seventh seed, and we pit them in the first round of the playoffs against the Utah Jazz, the Midwest Division champs, a team with a couple guys called John Stockton and Karl Malone, with a first-year coach in Jerry Sloan, a team that set a franchise record for wins, had set a franchise record for home record, had the best defense in the league and was a popular pick to reach the NBA finals.

(Here was how David Aldridge described Bol at the time: "a 7-6 Dinka who's been unleashing three-point shots this season with abandon.")

(Here was Kornheiser's pre-playoff summary: "Utah over Golden State. Warriors lost six in a row to end season. They wore down.")

And what happened? What happened, you ask?

Golden State sweep. Warriors in three. The first NBA sweep by a team that didn't have homecourt advantage in 23 years. Golden State Coach Don Nelson called it "a miracle." Mullin called it "beautiful." Then he talked about the doubters.

"If you'd asked [how far we could go] a week ago, people probably would have said we'd be on vacation in Hawaii by now," he said. "This is one step, but we want to go further."

To repeat yet again for emphasis, those Warriors had the third-best offense; these Wiz are currently fourth. Those Warriors had the worst defense in the league; these Wiz are currently third-worst. Those Warriors were six games under .500 in March/April; these Wiz are six games under .500 in March/April. Those Warriors freefell into the seventh seed; these Wiz are attempting to do the same.

It's all too perfect. Bet on the Washington sweep. And send playoff invites to Manute Bol and Mitch Richmond.

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 12, 2007; 11:24 AM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Manute Bol has nothing on Gheorghe.

Posted by: GTB | April 12, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

It's 42. The answer. I'm sure that's what Elias would tell you.

The tough one, is the question.

Posted by: Kim | April 12, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

"with Mullin and Chris Richmond the highest scoring duo in the league"

Who is Chris Richmond?

Posted by: leafblower | April 12, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

obviously he meant Chris Mullin and [Mitch] Ritchmond - took me a second too though. Unfortunately I don't think the Warriors had Mitch and Mullin out for the playoffs with injuries.

Posted by: BiGpimpin | April 12, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

The Wiz have swooned every April for the past 3 seasons - Even the 45 win team of 2 years ago went 5-7 down the stretch. Sure, they won a playoff series but only thanks to a GA buzzer beater and a bonehead play by Duhon. It shows Eddie cant coach in the clutch - relies on GA magic to bail them out.

Posted by: CJ | April 12, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

"It shows Eddie can't couch in the clutch?"

Wow, that's sooo wrong. The only reason we've still got our respect in tact as we lose is Coach Eddie. The fact that he's helping to make these games close -- from the foundation up -- is a tribute to his coaching skills.

No boo-ing Coach Eddie, either.

JUST NO BOO-ING!! Seriously, behave, people, or I might just post in ALL capitals. ;)

Interesting post/angle on the whole situation. History-making losses. Buy a ticket and see history made.

Posted by: Nancy | April 12, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"so what your saying is, we still have a chance..."

let's go Boulez!

Dan has just made my day rise from a 19% enjoyable day to 43% (100% being maxed out of course)... woot woot!

Posted by: hmmmmm | April 12, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

"six game shiner" - that's funny.

Damn that picture is freaky.

Posted by: Bob | April 13, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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