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Morning tip: Wizards' path to 43-39 record

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Morning tip: Wizards' path to 43-39 record

John Wall had a vision of how the Wizards could find their way into the postseason for the third year in a row, and even though the Detroit Pistons appear comfortably ahead he might be right. That, however, requires a 6-0 finish to the regular season to have a chance.

"I feel like that game in Detroit is going to be a very, very big key to whether you want to be in the playoffs," Wall said of the Wizards' game at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday.

The best the Wizards can do at this point, with the L.A. Clippers on tap today, is win their last five games to finish with 43 wins -- three fewer than last season when they were a No. 5 seed and one fewer than 2013-14 when they also were fifth in the playoffs. 

But the East has more parity than in recent memory, and the No. 10 Wizards (37-39) are three games behind the No. 8 seed Indiana Pacers (40-36) for the final spot. 

So even though a win in L.A. would give them a 3-2 record on this West coast road trip, the 120-111 loss at the Sacramento Kings looms larger. They'd be just two games out with six remaining which is a much more workable margin:

  • If the No. 7 Pistons (41-36) win three of their last five games, the Wizards can't catch them even if they go 6-0. If the Pacers win three of their last six, the same standard applies. The Pistons would have victories, a total the Wizards can't reach and the Pacers would have 43 and they own the tiebreaker edge because of the 2-1 seasons series.

  • With two games left vs. the Miami Heat, who are playing for something, the Pistons could conceivably lose both and a head-to-head matchup with the Wizards looms larger because it would represent a game in the win and loss column. Miami is currently sixth but could elevate to No. 3 with just one-half game separating them from the Southeast Division-leading Charlotte Hornets.

  • The Pacers have two winnable games left vs. the N.Y. Knicks, then Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. All have losing records. It makes them more likely to catch the Pistons and less likely for the Wizards, who lost 2 of 3 vs. Indiana. A 100-99 loss to end the season could come back to haunt them.

  • Although the Chicago Bulls are one game ahead of the Wizards, they're not the main concern. They don't own the tiebreaker as they lost 2 of 3 to Washington but also have games left with the Memphis Grizzlies, Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers.

RELATED: Griffin to face Wizards; Pierce likely out Sunday

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Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

Ty Lawson is playing a bigger role than anyone could have predicted for Wizards vs. Raptors

The biggest surprise of the Wizards-Raptors series through two games, at least from Washington's perspective, has to be the fact Ty Lawson has very quickly earned a prominent role in Scott Brooks' playoff rotation.

Lawson, 30, was signed the day after the regular season and after he played much of 2017-18 in China with the Shandong Golden Stars. He did not appear in one game with the Wizards or any other NBA team during the regular season, yet he was the first point guard off the bench in Game 2.

When John Wall picked up two quick fouls, it was Lawson who got the nod, not Tomas Satoransky. Lawson ended up playing 31 minutes, more than Satoransky and fellow backup point guard Tim Frazier have earned combined through two games.

Though the Wizards had three point guards on their bench behind Wall before Lawson even signed, he has apparently surpassed them all on the depth chart. Satoransky is the most surprising, given he played quite well during the regular season.

Satoransky averaged 7.2 points, 3.9 assists and shot a team-best 46.5 percent from three. He had the highest offensive rating (124) on the team.

Lawson, though, played quite well in Game 2. He put up 14 points, eight assists and three rebounds while shooting 4-for-5 from three.

Lawson outscored four of the Wizards' five starters. Not bad for his first game.

"He did everything I knew he was capable of doing," Brooks said. "I’ve seen him do it for many, many years. He’s tough, he’s a competitor. He competes and pushes the pace. He plays defense. I liked the spirit."

Lawson provided a noticeable spark. He is still quick and aggressive with the ball, not afraid to look for his own shot, and played physical defense against the Raptors. Lawson ended the night plus-8 in the box score in a game the Wizards lost by 11.

"It’s good to see him get into a game and be able to produce for us," guard Bradley Beal said.

Given the Wizards lost Game 2 and face an 0-2 deficit in their series, it is likely that Brooks continues to alter his rotation in the coming games. He could go back to Satoransky more often, knowing he had some solid games against Toronto in the regular season, including on March 2 when he had 10 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Satoransky could see more time at shooting guard or small forward and could play alongside Lawson. That might be Satoransky's best bet because Lawson did nothing in Game 2 to squander the opportunity.

For a team whose effort has been questioned by their head coach, Lawson's energy and urgency was noteworthy. He brought the edge of a guy playing for his NBA career, knowing a good playoff series could earn him a contract next season. 

Clearly, the way Lawson played was refreshing for Brooks given how long he kept him out on the floor. He may have come out of nowhere, but it looks like Lawson is here to stay.

MORE ON THE WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

WIZARDS NEED BEAL TO BE MUCH BETTER TO WIN

BROOKS MAY CHANGE STARTING LINEUP FOR GAME 3

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Beal and Porter need to step up and so does the defense

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Beal and Porter need to step up and so does the defense

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller broke down the Wizards' 0-2 deficit and how Bradley Beal and Otto Porter need to play better.

They went into the potential change in the starting lineup, why the Wizards are doing so poorly on defense and the historical odds the Wizards are now up against.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!