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Wizards Kick Playoff Push into High Gear

Stacy M. Brown | 3/12/2014, 3 p.m.
From left: John Wall, Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat (Courtesy of XNSPORTS)

The expectations of Wizards’ fans have also risen this year as the team’s play continues to improve.

“I don’t think anyone is getting too crazy, thinking NBA title, but once the playoffs start, you never know what could happen,” said Lucious Valentine ,a longtime fan who lives in Northeast.

“It’s like the lottery, you have to be in it to win it and with us being in the playoffs this year and having a couple of legitimate NBA stars on our team, at least we have some hope,” said Valentine, 44.

The team’s performance also has received notice around the NBA, where others have frequently commented on the camaraderie displayed by the Wizards.

During a recent game, former NBA coach and broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy said watching the Wizards players interact on the bench brings a smile to his face.

“They are staying into the game and cheering for their teammates,” Van Gundy said. “Actively watching while not in the game is an underestimated part of chemistry. You can’t help but notice it.”

Center Marcin Gortat told ESPN that there are a few different reasons for the closeness the team displays.

“For example, Al Harrington’s dunk was the reason why I was actually celebrating because I’m close with Al,” said Gortat, 30.

Gortat also said the close-knit bond the team has developed has been evident in his relationship with Wall, who has helped motivate the team on and off the court this season.

“From my perspective, I definitely taught [Wall] to slow down a little bit on the pick-and-roll, because sometimes he’s going 100 miles per hour,” he said. “We’ve developed that relationship and chemistry.”

For his part, Wall said the team has jelled and, despite his mega-contract, there's no jealousy and the only thing they are collectively envious of are teams with championship rings.

“If you’re not winning what’s the point of getting the contract? You’re still going to get your money but you’re not having fun,” Wall said. “The only thing you can do is [win] now. It’s no point in having [a big contract] and not being happy.”