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Top 5 teams in the East: Finding the right spot for the Wizards

Top 5 teams in the East: Finding the right spot for the Wizards

The 2017-18 NBA schedule was released on Monday and with Eastern Conference odds being released on Tuesday, it's now time to project where teams will finish and rank the best teams in the East.

After falling one game short of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Wizards are determined to break through and solidify themselves as one of the top two teams in the East.

The offseason contract extensions of Otto Porter and John Wall have only strengthened the team's bond and desire to bring a championship back to Washington, D.C.

But as the regular season approaches, where do the Wizards rank among the top teams in the East? On Tuesday, CSN's Rob Carlin and Chris Miller ranked their list of the top five teams in the east.

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Here's what they both went with as of Aug. 15. You can watch their analysis in the video player above.

Rob Carlin's Top 5 Teams in the East:
5. 76ers
4. Wizards
3. Bucks
2. Celtics
1. Cavaliers

Chris Miller's Top 5 Teams in the East:
5. Bucks
4. Raptors
3. Cavaliers
2. Celtics
1. Wizards

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It's easy to look at the 76ers roster and think this team is the future. The 76ers just might be "the future," but the team's "Big 3" of Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons have played exactly zero games together and injury concerns have already stunted the growth of both Simmons and Embiid. 

That's why the Toronto Raptors, with DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, should be in the No. 5 spot here.

Speaking of "teams of the future," the Milwaukee Bucks are the closest thing the NBA has to "The MonStars." Giannis Antetokounmpo is a fringe MVP candidate and the team has at least seven players with a wingspan of at least seven feet. But You need superstar players to carry a team, and Antetokounmpo is close, but not there yet. The Bucks should be in the No 4 spot here.

It's great to think that the Washington Wizards will be the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference. It's what every basketball fan in Washington, D.C. is hoping for. But until LeBron James has been unseated, it's hard — nearly impossible — to put any team above the Cavaliers. Perhaps a healthy Ian Mahinmi will make a big difference up front, a place the team needs help. But that is a big question mark. The bench is big question mark too. The team's "Big 3" of Wall, Porter and Bradley Beal can only do so much. The Wizards are going to be good — really good, hopefully — but as of now, it's hard to put them above the No. 3 spot

The Wizards came up just short of the Eastern Conference Finals, falling to the Boston Celtics in seven games. The Celtics got a bit better this offseason,a dding all-star forward Gordon Hayward. Brad Stevens is widely considered one of the best coaches in the entire NBA, and if Isiah Thomas returns to form following a playoff hip injury, the Celtics should be locked in to the No. 2 spot in the East, which both Chris Miller and Rob Carlin agree with here.

Who knows if Kyrie Irving will be with the Cleveland Cavaliers by the time the playoffs roll around. And while LeBron James may not be in a Cavs uniform in 2018, he's going to be in uniform this season. And until a team is able to unseat the Cavaliers — the back-to-back-to-back Eastern Conference champions — you just have to put LeBron & co. in the No. 1 spot.

But that's whats fun about August. It's the silly season. It's all speculation. The Wizards very well could be the best team in the East. They brought the band back together and are trending in the right direction. There's no reason to believe they can't finish in the top two spots and potentially be the best team in the East.

By the time the new year gets here and the playoffs come into focus, we will finally know who is right and who is wrong.

But for now, speculation sure is fun. 

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NBA's last two minute report agrees with referees on strange Wizards-Clippers ending

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NBA's last two minute report agrees with referees on strange Wizards-Clippers ending

Those looking for solace in the NBA's last two minute report from Saturday's Wizards loss to the Clippers were disappointed on Sunday as the league has confirmed the ruling and explanation from the officiating crew.

The Wizards were affected by a mistake made by the clock operator in L.A. With 1.2 seconds left, the clock started early before the Wizards passed the ball inbounds to attempt a game-tying shot. The refs put 1.1 seconds back on the clock, but the Wizards were unsuccessful in their second try. 

As referee Bill Spooner explained following the game on Saturday, the rules dicate the Wizards should have been given 0.1 seconds on the clock instead of 1.1 and that's exactly how the NBA saw things in their last two minute report:

"After communicating with the Replay Center, it is determined that 0.1 seconds ran off the clock prior to the ball being legally touched. Since the basket by Beal (WAS) was scored after he game clock had expired, the Wizards retain possession on the sideline nearest the point of interruption and the game clock is incorrectly reset to 00:01.1 instead of 00:00.1, which is the amount of lost time."

Here is the play in question:

The Wizards were technically screwed by the clock starting early, but in the league's eyes it wasn't as bad as Wizards fans may argue.

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Wizards have been the most consistent NBA team at being inconsistent

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Wizards have been the most consistent NBA team at being inconsistent

The Wizards did something on Saturday in Los Angeles that has been head-scratchingly common for them this season, they lost to an objectively bad team. And, as has become custom, the Wizards led by double-digit points at one juncture and their opponent was missing several key players.

It was a game in which they had no excuse for losing.

"It’s frustrating. It’s a little bit beyond frustrating at this point," guard Bradley Beal said. "Like I just told Tim [Frazier], we should be tired of coming in here and saying ‘on to the next one, on to the next one.’ You run out of games at some point."

Head coach Scott Brooks appears beyond frustrated, as well. After the game he suggested over and over that there were players on his team that didn't show up to play. 

"We need all of our guys ready to play and we didn’t have that this afternoon," he said.

Brooks could have been referring to Kelly Oubre, Jr, or Markieff Morris, who had arguably their worst games of the season, but he wouldn't name names. It doesn't really matter because just about everyone has been a culprit at some point in these letdowns against lesser teams this season.

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The Wizards this season have been the NBA's most enigmatic and least predictable team. They have two very different versions of themselves and what you get appears to heavily depend on who they are playing.

This season the 14-12 Wizards have been markedly worse against losing teams than they have against teams at .500 or with a winning record. Basically, they play well against the good teams and bad against the bad ones. That's the definition of NBA insanity.

In the Eastern Conference, only the Celtics (8-4) and Cavs (7-4) have a better record against teams at .500 above than the Wizards, who are 8-5. That's the positive.

But the Wizards are just 6-7 against teams with losing records. Only the Hawks (5-7) and Bulls (5-9) have been worse in that category among teams in the East and they are terrible. The Wizards are the only NBA team currently with a reverse split of a losing record against losing teams and a winning record against winning teams.

The 2017-18 NBA season is only about a third of the way finished, and things may end up evening out, but the contrast the Wizards are seeing is very rare. No team has finished a season with a reverse split since at least the 2001-02 season (as far back as ESPN.com's expanded NBA standings go).

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It's usually the other way around and to a dramatic extent. Last season, the Wizards were 27-9 against teams with losing records compared to 22-24 vs. those at .500 or better. 

In every NBA season, even some good teams are bad against other good teams. And usually, even bad teams are good against other bad teams. Last season, seven teams that missed the playoffs had winning records against teams below .500, including the Knicks, Sixers and Kings.

This season the Wizards have already lost to the Hornets (9-16), Lakers (10-15), Clippers (9-15), Suns (9-19) and Mavericks (7-19). Their under. 500 difficulties also include defeats against the Jazz (13-14) and the Heat (12-13). Two more and they will match their total losses against sub-.500 teams from all of last season.

Many of the Wizards' games have been close and they are ending up on the wrong side far too often. Their losses against the Lakers, Heat and Clippers were all by three points or less.

No team in the East has had more games decided by three points or less than the Wizards, who are 1-5 in those scenarios. No one else in the East has lost more than three such games.

The Wizards only lost six games decided by three points or less all of last season. They were 9-6 in those games and only two teams won more of them.

The numbers from last year suggest the Wizards will snap out of this at some point, but like Beal said, it should probably happen sooner than later.

"We’ve gotta learn how to put teams away. We’ve gotta learn how to put our foot on the gas," he added. "These are important games and games that we need to win and should have won."

The Wizards keep playing up and down to their opponents and it's leading to a staggering amount of regrettable defeats.

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