There are only 10 games remaining in the 2015-16 regular season for the Wizards. Barring a major change in projections, they will be the final games played by Washington this season.
Following Friday's 132-129 double-overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Wizards need more than Kelly Oubre's 7-foot-2 wingspan to reach the postseason now. Combined with the Detroit Pistons win over the Charlotte Hornets, Washington (35-37) sits 3.5 games back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The surging Pistons (39-34), winners of five straight, and the Indiana Pacers (38-33) are essentially tied for seventh in the East. The Wizards must also pass the Chicago Bulls (36-35) along the way.
Adding to the gloomy scenario, the Wizards play seven of their 10 games on the road, including a five-game trip against Western Conference opponents which begins Sunday at the Los Angeles Lakers.
According to the analytics website FiveThirtyEight.com, the Wizards have a 12 percent chance of reaching the playoffs. That forecast is downright rosy compared to the 3.6 percent change offered by BasketballReference.com.
Coming back home with a winning rod trip was already a must. Following the gut punch loss, expectations went up a notch.
“Win. We gotta win," guard Garrett Temple stated. "I said before this game that we needed to win this one and then come back over .500 from the West Coast road trip. We still need to do that. We gotta win at least four instead of at least three.”
Winning four means beating either the league-leading Golden State Warriors (65-7) or the Los Angeles Clippers (44-27) or both. After starting against the Lakers (15-57), the Wizards play the Warriors, Sacramento Kings (28-44), Phoenix Suns (20-52) and Clippers.
Reminder: Golden State is 34-0 at home this season.
Another reminder: The Lakers, Clippers and Warriors already beat the Wizards this season in Washington.
Final reminder: With the season on the brink, Washington lost to a 23-win Minnesota team at home.
At this point all the Wizards can do is follow Temple's advice: Win and win a lot. Finish 8-2 and Washington ends the season 43-41. The Wizards own the tiebreaker over the Pistons, meaning Detroit needs a 5-4 finish to reach 44 wins.
At this point, scoreboard watching doesn't matter much.
“Help yourselves," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of his message to the team before the trip begins. "I'm being honest. Are we gonna carry it over again? We have an opportunity to go into LA, a team that's been up and down all year. A team that beat us here. There should be no, oh we can just walk in. That's what I tell them. We gotta end this. You gotta end it. You gotta make it six out of eight. You gotta take it like that. That's what I tell them.”