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Surging Wizards on verge of projected playoff spot


Surging Wizards on verge of projected playoff spot

Faster than a John Wall fastbreak, the Washington Wizards have gone from floundering to nearly grabbing a playoff berth.

Of course, the season is far from over, but with Wednesday's road victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Wizards (30-30) have won four in a row and seven of nine since the All-Star break. They've also reached .500 for the first time since 19-19 on Jan. 15. More importantly, they've gained in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Wizards, now tied with the Bulls, are 1/2 game back of the Pistons for the eighth and final playoff spot.

This won't become a daily scenario through the end of the season, but here's a quick snapshot of the playoff race. 

Cleveland (42-17) and Toronto (40-19) have separated from the pack in a battle for the top two seeds. Here's where the rest of the East contenders stand including games behind the first place Cavaliers and record over last 10 games. The top eight teams make the playoffs while the top four receive homecourt advantage in the opening round.

3. Boston, 37-25, 6.5, 7-3

4. Miami, 34-26, 8.5, 6-4

5. Atlanta, 33-28, 10.0, 4-6

6. Charlotte, 32-28, 10.5, 8-2

7. Indiana, 33-29, 11.0, 5-5

8. Detroit, 31-30, 12.0, 4-6

9. Washington, 30-30, 12.5, 7-3

10. Chicago, 30-30, 12.5, 3-7

* The last 10 games represents how teams are faring of late, but the Bulls, losers of four straight, are definitely fading.

* Of Washington's remaining 22 games, 13 are on the road, the most of any team in the East. That includes four of the next five starting with Friday's matchup at Cleveland. Indiana and Detroit have the fewest road games (9) left. The Wizards still face Western Conference road swings of three and five games including matchups against Portland, Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers

* Like Jerry Seinfeld's character on the TV classic "Seinfeld," the Wizards are Even Steven across the board. 30-30 overall, 16-16 at home, 14-14 on the road.

* When it comes to tiebreakers, the Wizards have some work remaining.

Won: None

Winning: Pistons (2-0; two games left, one home)

Lost: Celtics (4-0)

Losing: Hawks (0-1, three games left, two home), Hornets (1-2; Apr. 10 at home), 

Tied and done: Heat (2-2)

Tied and in progress: Bulls (1-1; March 16, home), Pacers (1-1; March 5, home)

[RELATED: Dudley called for strange foul at the end of the first quarter]

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 

The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall remains out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.


The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.

The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home-court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.


By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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