Playoffs?? Playoffs?? Yes, We’re Talking About the Wizards and the Playoffs | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Playoffs?? Playoffs?? Yes, We’re Talking About the Wizards and the Playoffs

By
Updated: March 1, 2016

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NOBODY EXPECTED THE 2015-16 Washington Wizards to be in 10th place in the Eastern Conference on March 1. This season was supposed to send a direct message to Kevin Durant that Washington has arrived as an established contender in the Eastern Conference and is only one Seat Pleasant native away from annual trips to the NBA Finals. That dream may be dead, but the Wizards playoff hopes do not have to meet the same fate.

The Wizards are riding a three-game winning streak and sit at 29-30 through their first 59 games. ESPN’s BPI Playoff Odds predicts Washington’s post-season chances at 20.9% (although ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight’s NBA Predictions has Washington’s chances at a much better 45%). Luckily, actual NBA playoff spots are not determined by 10,000 daily computer-generated simulations.

For all the early season talk about the Eastern Conference’s revival, there really are only two dominant teams: Cleveland and Toronto. The rest (Seeds 3-8) are separated by only four and a half games. While grabbing home court advantage would be a stretch with so many teams standing in Washington’s way, the Wizards certainly can move into playoff contention and have a realistic chance of avoiding the dreaded 1 vs. 8 match-up against Cleveland. In fact, the 6 through 9-place teams are all tied and Washington is only one and a half games behind all of them.

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This is where the skeptics will throw cold water on any post-season hope by pointing to the Wizards’ inconsistent and disappointing play during the first 59 games of the season. In response, I defer to Mr. Andy Dufresne, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

Also, Washington does not have a first-round pick this year, anyway (1). So, whether you are swayed by sentimentality or practicality, you might as well root for a third straight playoff appearance. Besides, who among the current playoff teams (other than Cleveland) scares you?

Toronto? Sure, the Wizards and Raptors have gone in opposite directions since last year’s first-round sweep by Washington, but Toronto has not won a playoff series in 15 years and has been upset in the first round the last two years. The Raptors look like they’ve arrived in the regular season, but do they really want to play the Wizards again (even without Paul Pierce)?

Boston? The Celtics seem to have Washington’s number. Boston won all four match-ups this season and three of those were blowouts. But is it that hard to imagine Washington beating Boston in the first round? I’ll answer for you: No, it’s not.

The rest of the current playoff teams (Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Indiana) are all having better seasons than Washington but none would have an appreciable advantage over a locked-in and focused Wizards team—the kind that showed up in the playoffs the last two seasons. Plus, one of the above-mentioned teams would theoretically be knocked out of the playoffs if Washington moved in. According to predictionmachine.com (whatever that is), the Wizards have thus far played the most difficult schedule of any playoff hopeful, so the path to the post-season could be somewhat smoother for Washington (2).

The bottom line: With only 23 games left in the Wizards’ season, it is not too early to start scoreboard watching. The standings change nightly in the Eastern Conference but here is a snapshot of where Washington currently stands among its closest competitors, with news and notes about their remaining schedules, including all of their head-to-head match-ups with Washington.

6. CHARLOTTE (30-28)

24 Games Remaining (13 HOME, 11 ROAD)

@Washington – April 10

Charlotte has won eight of their last 11 games and have the easiest remaining schedule of the playoff hopefuls. Plus, they play the majority of their games at home, where they have the third best record in the East (19-9). The Hornets have the scheduling gods on their side.

7. CHICAGO (30-28)

24 Games Remaining (11 HOME, 13 ROAD)

@Washington – March 16

Since opening the season 22-12, Chicago only has eight wins in their last 24 games. With Jimmy Butler reportedly still “a ways away” from returning, the Bulls are the most likely candidate to fall out of playoff contention. The Wizards’ loss in Chicago last week to a Rose, Butler, Mirotic, and Noah-less squad will loom large if Washington finds itself on the outside looking in come April.

 8.  INDIANA (31-29)

22 Games Remaining (12 HOME, 10 ROAD)

@Washington – March 5

After Indiana plays Washington on March 5, they have a brutal six game stretch: Spurs (3/7), @Mavs (3/12), @Hawks (3/13) , Celtics (3/15), Raptors (3/17), Thunder (3/19). The next three weeks is the best time for the Wizards to gain much needed ground on the Pacers.

9. DETROIT (31-29)

22 Games Remaining (12 HOME, 10 ROAD)

@Washington – March 14; @Detroit – April 8

Detroit is the most inconsistent team in the NBA. The Pistons started early February with a five-game losing streak, then immediately followed with a four-game winning streak, including an impressive win over Toronto in their last game. Hopefully for Wizards fans, the addition of Tobias Harris at the trade deadline does not give the Pistons the jolt they need to catapult into the postseason. Washington’s two remaining match-ups with Detroit will likely be critical in the playoff race.

10. WASHINGTON (29-30)

23 Games Remaining (9 HOME, 14 ROAD)

It’s the same old story for the Wizards. Play with effort and heart and you win. Take opponents for granted and you lose. Randy Wittman’s post-game press conferences write themselves. It’s anyone’s guess which Wizards team will show up on any given night for the rest of the season, but one thing is for sure: this roster has the talent to make the playoffs. Anything less would be a waste of a season. And as John Wall says, “I ain’t trying to waste a season.”

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  1. Washington traded a future first-round pick, with top-9 protection, to Phoenix for Markieff Morris.
  2. Strength of schedule data for the end of the season is usually not reliable because top teams will often rest their starters in anticipation of the playoffs.
Adam Rubin on EmailAdam Rubin on Twitter
Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.




  • b_santos

    Looking at the remaining schedule, there are four games in which the Wizards will have to play above their ability to win (Cavaliers, Blazers, Warriors, Clippers). Of the remaining 19 games, the Wizards match up well. Taken individually, almost every game I would say the Wizards should win. Wiz/T-Wolves? Wizards should win (twice). Wiz/Jazz? Wizards beat them once, and should win again. Wiz/Knicks? Should win. Wiz/Lakers? Should win. If you look at each game, this plays out for the remainder of the season. The only problem is that they need to show up every game. Yes, I believe – and if they take this one game at a time, it is not so crazy to think they could finish with 45 wins. I know, it seems impossible now, but one game at a time, it could happen.