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NBA PM: Wizards Continue Rise in the Southeast

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Wizards Gaining Ground on the Hawks

Just a few weeks ago, the Washington Wizards seemed to be imploding. Many wondered if head coach Scott Brooks was the right choice for the team while others advocated trading Bradley Beal. The team was too young, too inexperienced and too concerned with things that weren’t related to their on-court production.

So much for all of that.

The Wizards enter play on January 25 having won 14 consecutive home games, including Tuesday night’s 123-108 victory over the Boston Celtics. For a late-January game, that meeting with the Celtics got a lot of attention, as every member of the Wizards arrived to the game wearing black. In an attempt to promote the idea of figuratively “burying” the Celtics, the Wizards made their disdain for their Eastern Conference foe clear, and they backed it up in a game that they led from wire to wire.

At the end of the day, though, the victory over the Celtics counts only as a single win. What we have seen from the Wizards over the past several weeks—that’s the real story.

Aside from John Wall and Bradley Beal’s stellar play, over the past 10 games, the Wizards have gotten 17.6 points and 9.2 rebounds from Markieff Morris while Otto Porter (14.5 points and 52 percent shooting from three-point range) and Kelly Oubre have stood out for their vast contributions, as well.

At 25-20, the Wizards are not only a season-high five games over the .500 mark, they also happen to enter play on January 25 trailing the Atlanta Hawks by a single game for the lead in the Southeast Division. Whether or not Wall and company can continue their climb atop the conference will depend on their ability to stay healthy and maintain this recent level of play. Since December 1, the club has had the league’s seventh-best offense and 12th best defense.

Still, make no mistake about it, how high the Wizards ascend will also be based on whether or not their game can travel. Despite winning 14 straight at the Verizon Center, the team is a pitiful 6-14 on the road, including just four wins in their previous 10 tries.

On the bright side? The Wizards have just 10 games remaining before the All-Star break and six of them will be played in the confines of Washington, D.C. Of the four road contests, only one of them will be played against a winning team. That one game happens to be against the Hawks—the team the Wizards are looking up at in the division. With the two teams set to meet on January 27, it’s quite possible that coach Brooks and his young team could be leading the division by February 1.

Entering the season, many thought highly of the Wizards, while many lost hope after the team sputtered out of the gate. Lo and behold, though, the Wizards are now more or less where they were expected to be, even if it took them a bit longer than many thought to get there.

First Look: Jersey Sponsor Logos

In April of 2016, the NBA Board of Governors announced that it approved the sale of jersey sponsorships, with sponsor logos to begin appearing on jerseys for the 2017-18 season.

On Wednesday, Daren Rovell of ESPN shared a first look at the long-discussed sponsorship patches. The Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings are among the first teams to display what their sponsored jerseys will look like.

Since the NBA announced the approval, there have been mixed reactions from fans and media as to whether the league—which hasn’t been having any financial problems—should follow through. But the 2.5-inch by 2.5-inch patches are coming, like it or not.

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About Moke Hamilton

Moke Hamilton

Moke Hamilton is a Deputy Editor and Columnist for Basketball Insiders, covering the NBA and international basketball.