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.