"It's been a long journey we've been on," Beal said. "John's journey has been longer than mine. This is my second year, and for us to make the playoffs and win a tough series against a great team means a lot. At the same time, it's a humbling experience because a lot of people doubted us. Now we know what we are capable of doing. Now we just have to take it one game at a time."
It's always nice, though, to have some big brothers to assist with some of the challenges growth requires. The 31-year-old Nene and the 30-year-old Gortat are standing right behind the Wizards' young guards to provide support, literally and figuratively.
Their inside might was on full display in the closing minutes, when the Wizards pulled down three consecutive offensive rebounds to keep their possession alive and keep Chicago at bay. They didn't end up scoring, but the time drained was enough to demoralize the Bulls.
In the final minute, Washington guard Andre Miller missed two free throws, but Nene was able to tap the second miss back to Miller as the Wizards once again maintained possession and ran off valuable seconds. Suspended in Game 4 for an altercation with the Bulls' Jimmy Butler, Nene said he was inspired by his teammates' play Sunday, and it showed.
"It was all his intangibles," Wittman said. "I use that word for Nene all the time. He can score, he can shoot, he can post, he can dribble, he can pass and he can defend. When he is not there, we cannot put one guy in there who has all those things. Having him back gave us a good comfort level."
Wittman was the architect of it all. Heady stuff from a coach in charge of a playoff series for the first time. He turned a team that was inconsistent at times during the regular season into one that was able to stick to the same solid plan for five consecutive games.
With the series win, it no longer matters that the Wizards hadn't been to the playoffs since 2008 and had gone through a complete rebuild, centered around Wall, since then. And no longer is it a topic that they haven't moved past the first round since 2005.
The Wizards are writing a new narrative, and they seem to be penning it with a steady hand.
"I think everything we have been through was necessary to give us maturity, to give us experience," Nene said. "Everything that happened was supposed to, and that's the reason we are in this position. You need to fail to succeed. We've been learning the last two years, and now is our moment. That's what I think."