LOVERRO: Wizards are the real deal, but enjoy them while you can

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Washington Wizards have issued a “fraud alert,” warning fans of the risk of “purchasing seats from an unauthorized third party” for the Eastern Conference semifinals starting Monday in Indianapolis against the Pacers, with Games 3 and 4 Friday and Sunday at Verizon Center.


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Wow. Wizards playoffs tickets are so hot that they are selling on the black market. Scam artists are trying to cash in on Wizards fever.

At least we can assume that. Why else would the team issue a “fraud alert?”

That’s a long way from when you could buy Wizards tickets for $2 just a month ago.

Washngton Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld, left, with coach Randy Wittman speaks to reporters during a news conference in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. Wittman replaces Flip Saunders who was fired as coach of the Wizards on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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Washngton Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld, left, with coach Randy Wittman speaks to ... more >

Remarkable, isn’t it?

These Wizards are worth the full price of admission. They exceeded expectations basketball-wise and heart-wise by handling the experienced Chicago Bulls in five games, and it’s reasonable to see this team beating Indiana and likely facing the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.

There’s nothing fraudulent about the way the Wizards are playing basketball now.

Beyond this season, though …

Let’s face it, this team is built on the premise of general manager Ernie Grunfeld saving his job this season and making the playoffs. He is the arsonist fireman, the one who burned this franchise to the ground and now gets the credit for rebuilding it.

He did a hell of a job doing that. Nearly every personnel button he pushed — trading for Marcin Gortat and Andre Miller, picking up Drew Gooden off the scrap heap — has worked. He drafted John Wall and Bradley Beal. He brought Nene here, pawning off one of his many mistakes, JaVale McGee, in the process.

But what is the end game? Where will it lead?

There is the young, talented backcourt of Wall and Beal, which is reason to be optimistic about the future. It’s a backcourt league, and they could have one of the most talented duos in the NBA.

But it’s not enough. There is a third piece missing — if indeed the mission is no longer to save Grunfeld’s job (he has likely done that already), but to compete for an NBA championship.

There seems to be an assumption that Kevin Durant is the missing piece, and will come home to Washington after “Mr. Unreliable” leaves Oklahoma City.

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