Opening Statements: Wizards at Celtics, Game 82
Teams: Wizards at Celtics
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Venue: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/THE FAN-FM 106.7
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 7.5 points
Wizards tickets … anyone?
Click to get them served up for cheap via TiqIQ and TAI.
The last day of the NBA regular season exactly six years ago, April 16, 2008, wasn’t as climactic as this year. At least not for the Washington Wizards, nor for any other team in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. There was zero seeding jostling to be had.
Washington then had a 43-38 record and held the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Their final game was against the Orlando Magic, who were locked in as the 3-seed in the East after the top-seeded Boston Celtics and the 2-seed Detroit Pistons.
The 4-seed Cleveland Cavaliers entered the final regular season day with a two-game lead over the Wizards (45-37) and the 6-seed Toronto Raptors trailed Washington by two games in the win column (41-40).
All three teams—Cavs, Wiz and Raptors—lost their regular season finale when there wasn’t any positioning to be had anyway. The 7-seed Philadelphia 76ers could have tied the Raptors with a 41-41 record had they beat the Bobcats on the final day, but that didn’t matter much, either, as Toronto already held the tiebreaker over Philly. The Atlanta Hawks also had the 8-seed locked down heading into the last games on April 16, as they also had a two-game lead over the 9-seed Indiana Pacers.
At the conclusion of games on April 4, 2008, the Wizards were actually tied with the 76ers for the 5-seed (39-37), but Philly faded down the stretch. Washington finished 4-2 but never got within a game of Cleveland.
Tonight things are different. Washington finds themselves needing a win over Boston to secure the 6-seed. A loss could mean that Washington slips to 7 for a date with the Miami Heat. There’s also potential that the Wizards could bump up to the 5-seed. If Toronto beats New York, the Raptors will hold the 3-seed, but if Toronto loses and the Bobcats beat the Bulls, then Chicago will bump up to third and the Raptors will drop to fourth.
The scenarios go as follows for Washington:
- 5-seed – A Wizards win over the Celtics in Boston AND a Nets loss against the Cavaliers in Cleveland.
- 6-seed – A Wizards win and a Nets win, OR a Wizards loss and a Bobcats loss.
- 7-seed – A Wizards loss AND a Bobcats win over the Chicago Bulls in Charlotte.
So, sorry, Wizards fans. You won’t be able to just sit back and enjoy this game without angst, or scoreboard watching. Can you feel the playoff excitement? Or are you just happy to be here?
The Wizards, now with 43 wins, just like that 2008 team, have exceeded expectations. At least the expectations of the TAI staff. Only three of us pegged the Wizards to finish above .500—Conor Dirks (43-39), Sean Fagan (42-40), and Czech correspondent Lukas Kuba (43-39). I predicted a safe, even 41-41; the collective average amongst staffers: 39.3 wins.
After so many painful seasons, perhaps working against the much-talked about, much vaunted, and totally mythical Curse O’ Les Boulez this time around is enough. When fans could not believe in the team, the curse was the one thing they could hold onto, even if a fallacy in action. Of course, this season is not over. Hours from now Wizards fans could be in the doldrums of having to be spoiled by LeBron James in the playoffs once again. (Although this time, in my opinion, they are more equipped to take down the self-proclaimed King.)
And thus, adopting the bullshit ‘we’re only worried about us’ cliche that’s apart of every coach’s playbook ever, there will be no questions with a Celtics blogger asking asking if Brad Stevens is a chill bro and who the Celtics want to take in the draft.
Tonight, we shall just watch some basketball. Perhaps some crappy basketball (Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, Jerryd Bayless, and Kris Humphries are out for Boston, per CSN’s J. Michael), but there will be basketball. And after that, more basketball of a playoff nature.
And if you’re wondering when the Wizards will play their first playoff game, which will be on the road, Steve Buckhantz has relayed via Twitter that the Raptors will play the first game on Saturday, the Bulls will play in the 7 p.m. slot on Sunday, and the Heat will play in the 3:30 slot on Sunday.