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Updated playoff odds after Wizards win three in a row


Updated playoff odds after Wizards win three in a row

The Wizards had been on a five-game losing streak when we last checked on their playoff odds. At the time, ESPN's projections gave Washington a dismal 4.1% shot at the postseason

Fast forward five days and the Wiz are still in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, but have won three games in a row. Two of those victories came against No. 8 Chicago and No. 9 Detroit, which swapped places in the standings over the past week. 

So where do Washington's playoff odds stand now that they've beaten the two teams ahead of them (and hold tiebreakers in both series)? Let's take a look at three different projections and how each works. 

ESPN gives the Wizards a 15.3% chance at making the playoffs, compared to 45.2% odds for the Pistons and 42.8% odds for the Bulls. The ESPN model uses 10,000 simulations of the remaining schedule based on an advanced statistical measure of team quality called BPI (Basketball Power Index).

FiveThirtyEight is the most optimistic about Washington, giving them a 29% chance at the postseason. Detroit and Chicago are more vulnerable in this projection, with 43% and 34% odds respectively. The FiveThirtyEight model simulates the remaining schedule 50,000 times based on two advanced statistical measures: Elo (team rating) and CARM-Elo (player rating). 

Basketball-Reference.com gives the Wiz the lowest odds of a playoff berth: just 13.4%. The Pistons and Bulls are safer, with a 50.1% and 41.2% chance at the postseason respectively. Basketball-Reference.com simulates the rest of the season 7,500 times based on the average conference rank of each team. It doesn't seem to use advanced stats like the other two, but more complicated isn't necessarily better. 

It's important to keep track of Detroit's and Chicago's chances because Washington will likely have to surpass both to secure the 8th seed in the East. Only 1.5 games separates all three teams in the standings. 

Beating the Pistons and the Bulls this past week definitely improves the Wizards' playoff odds, but it's still a steep hill to climb with only 14 games left in the regular season. 

MORE WIZARDS: Playoff push: Breaking down Eastern Conference chase

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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Another test

The Wizards continue their difficult stretch coming out of the All-Star break against a very dangerous Sixers team. Philly has proven to be very streaky this season, but right now they are rolling. They come to Washington having won their last seven games dating back to Feb. 6 when they beat the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wizards are also playing well, having won eight of their last 11, despite their loss to the Hornets on Friday.

The Sixers are currently seventh in the East and appear on track to make the playoffs. If they keep rising the standings, they could meet the Wizards, who are currently fourth, in the first round. 


Season series

Speaking of the playoffs, this game could end up looming large for postseason seeding. The Sixers have won two of the three matchups between these teams this year. If they win on Sunday, they will take the season series and own the tiebreaker over Washington.

If the two teams tie head-to-head and end up with the same record at the end of the season, it will then come down to conference record. The Sixers currently have a better record against East teams than the Wizards. But if they can beat Philly this time, the Wizards will have a chance to secure the conference tiebreaker down the stretch of this season.


Sixers are tough to guard

The Wizards have found out the hard way this season just how difficult it can be to match up with the Sixers, who are led by two emerging stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid is 7-foot-1 with rare abilities to stretch the floor and beat opponents off the dribble. Simmons is 6-foot-10, yet can lead the fastbreak with rare speed and vision to find his teammates with crisp passes.

The mobility for their size is almost unmatched and it has not been easy for the Wizards to answer. In their last meeting earlier this month, Simmons had 15 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Embiid had 27 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. The Wizards have to try to limit those guys while also dealing with other challenges like Robert Covington, Dario Saric and J.J. Reddick.


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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.


The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.


Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one.