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WASHINGTON — Drew Gooden has been a Washington Wizard for fewer than two months, but the NBA veteran doesn’t need much of a history lesson.
Gooden has heard all about the Wizards having won just one playoff series since 1982, and he knows that this year’s playoff appearance ended a six-year postseason drought.
But since returning home Wednesday after the Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls in Game 2 of their first-round, best-of-seven series, Gooden also has picked up on something that cannot be researched.
“There’s just a feeling right now,” Gooden said after practice Thursday.
“Just going to Whole Foods, driving in traffic, going to the [Nationals] game last night, you can definitely feel the energy and love in this city. You can sense the excitement of Wizards fans in the DMV area. You can feel just how excited they are for us to be in this position.”
The Wizards are in an enviable position, leading their first-round series two games to none, with Games 3 and 4 at Verizon Center. Only 14 teams in NBA history have ever come back from a 2-0 series deficit, and only three of those teams rallied after dropping the first two games at home.
Still, the Wizards know that there is work to be done.
“I promise you, we’re not satisfied,” Trevor Booker told the Wizards Radio Network after Game 2. “We want more. We’re going back home now and we’ve got to take care of home.”
The series resumes with Game 3 on Friday (WFED 1500AM; 8 p.m.) as Washington plays host to an NBA playoff game for the first time since 2008. With a sellout crowd expected at Verizon Center, the Wizards look forward to channeling the home energy.
“Boy, I hope it’s jumping,” head coach Randy Wittman said of the Wizards’ home arena.
“It’s been a long time. I’m happy for the city, but more importantly, I’m happy for our guys. They saw what [playoff basketball] was like [in Chicago] and now they’ll get to experience it at home. I’m excited for the fans. The fans have been there for us for the last six years too.”
Wittman also made it clear that the Wizards can’t afford to get caught up in the moment and must play the same brand of winning basketball that helped secure two wins on the road.
The Wizards overcame double-digit second-half deficits in both games, rallying from 13 points down in the third quarter of Game 1 and 10 points down in the fourth quarter of Game 2.
Washington was able to come back in both games thanks largely to an ability to clamp down defensively. While Bradley Beal and Nene combined for a 12-0 run to close out regulation and open overtime in Game 2, the Wizards held Chicago without a field goal for more than eight minutes, also at the end of the 4th quarter and into OT. It was an effort that the Wizards know must continue in Game 3.
“We’ll probably be a little nervous playing in front of our home crowd, in our first playoff game here at home,” said Beal. “It will be a different type of atmosphere