It’s like the last week of school with finals done for the Wizards (17-46), who own the longest winning streak in the Eastern Conference and will go for their first four-game winning streak in five years when the lowly Charlotte Bobcats (7-56) visit on Monday night.
As such, Wizards coach Randy Wittman isn’t letting class out early.
“We’re not worried about Charlotte,” he said prior to shootaround Monday morning. “We’ve got to keep focused on what we’re doing. We’ve got three wins in a row. Why do we have three wins in a row? That’s what I’m trying to keep these guys focused at, why are we playing good. It doesn’t matter if it’s Charlotte, Cleveland or Miami. It doesn’t matter who it is. We’ve got to focus on what we’re doing and why we’re being successful. That goes into tonight’s game.”
The Bobcats extended their franchise-record losing streak to 20 games with a 114-88 blowout home loss to Sacramento on Sunday while a number of the Wizards were at Verizon Center cheering on the Capitals in their overtime playoff loss to the Boston Bruins. Among those players was Trevor Booker, who has missed the last 12 games with plantar fasciitis in his left foot and hopes not to finish a second straight season with injury. After missing the final 11 games last season with a broken foot, Booker has yet to play an NBA game in the month of April.
“I’m not sure if it’s going to happen this season,” Booker said when asked if he would play again. “Hopefully, at least the last two or three games. I’m going to see how it feels in warm-ups today and go from there.”
Booker was averaging 8.4 points and 6.5 rebounds before the injury, both numbers up from his production as a rookie.
“I played for like two months on that injury,” he said. “I really didn’t tell anybody it was hurting. I just figured it would go away and it just started getting worse, so I had to tell somebody and eventually it just popped on me. It’s tough, but at the same time, you’ve got to take care of your body and look forward to next season. The season didn’t end the way I wanted this season. I’ve just got to find a way to stay healthier next year.”
Meanwhile, Wittman said he plans to continue to use Nene off the bench, as he has the last two games.
“It’s easier to control his minutes that way than as a starter,” Wittman said. “He’s fine with it, and I think we’ll probably do that these last three games.”
To the end, Wittman hasn’t yet let his guard down from the awkward circumstances that he faced when he took over a Wizards team that was 2-15 when Flip Saunders was fired as coach on Jan. 24. The Wizards have gone 15-31 since, and Wittman would simply rather not talk about himself. But after school lets out in a few days, this teacher won’t know when or where his next class will be.
“It’s enjoyable for them,” Wittman said. “Listen, that’s what it’s all about, winning and losing. When you lose, it’s miserable, whether you’re a player, coach, a fan. When you win, it’s fun. Absolutely. We’ve had to kind of endure because of who we are as a young team and stuff, taking some good things out of losses and how you’re playing. But obviously when you win, and see the reasons why you’re winning, it is enjoyable.”