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After a critical weekend, where are the Wizards in the East, the NBA Draft Lottery?

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USA TODAY Sports

After a critical weekend, where are the Wizards in the East, the NBA Draft Lottery?

The Washington Wizards just finished a critical duo of games for their playoff hopes and NBA Draft Lottery position.

They lost to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday then turned around and beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. These are the teams directly ahead of Washington in the Eastern Conference standings and the draft lottery order, respectively.

Despite dropping Friday’s contest, the Wizards have scraped together a respectable 6-4 record in their last 10 games.

Where does all this leave them in the East, and, conversely, in the lottery order?

Eastern Conference Standings

With a 30-40 record, Washington hasn’t budged from the 11th spot in the East, trailing Brooklyn (36-35) in seventh, Miami (32-36) in eight, Orlando (32-38) in ninth and Charlotte (31-37) in 10th.

As of Saturday evening, Washington is three games out of the eighth and final playoff spot.

There are 12 games left on the schedule, so while the Wizards are inching closer to the eight seed, their window to get it done may be closing faster.

They’re not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. If a couple other teams decide to take a major tumble, Washington could be poised to step over them.

NBA Draft Lottery

Look, while Bradley Beal has been dragging his team upward in 0.5-game increments, those 40-point, 40-minute efforts are hurting their lottery odds.

The Wizards had been seventh in the lottery order for several weeks, but the Grizzlies overtook them, bumping them to eight heading into the weekend.

Washington’s victory over Memphis on Saturday happened to coincide with a Pelicans loss, pushing the Wiz kids down to ninth position.

The ninth spot translates to 20.3 percent odds of drawing a top-four pick—hello, Duke freshmen!—and 4.5 percent odds of landing number one.

Slipping two spots is a rather large deal in terms of lottery odds. Simulating the drawing, the ninth-place team gets a top-four pick once in every five simulations. The seventh-place team gets a top-four pick once in every three simulations.

Look Ahead

At the risk of sounding alarmist, the Wizards can’t play at their current level if they want to make the playoffs. They’re going to need to shift into a higher gear.

The coming week brings four games, including a road-and-home back-to-back. Three of their next four opponents are playoff teams. The week after next is a West Coast road trip.

On the flip side, that tough schedule benefits Washington in terms of climbing the lottery ladder.

Games to Watch

Hornets at Heat, Sunday 1 PM

Pelicans at Magic, Wednesday 7 PM

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Bradley Beal’s historic night highlights Washington Wizards’ key win vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Bradley Beal’s historic night highlights Washington Wizards’ key win vs. Memphis Grizzlies

The Washington Wizards topped the Memphis Grizzlies, 135-128, on Saturday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. The 2018-19 season for the Wizards has been so far defined by brilliance from Bradley Beal amid subpar results for the team overall. On Saturday night, the rest of the Wizards held up their end of the bargain.

The Wizards knocked off the Grizzlies behind 40 points by Bradley Beal, the second straight night he reached the 40 mark. That tied a franchise record for consecutive 40-point games with seven other players, among them Gilbert Arenas and Michael Jordan.

Beal also moved into fourth place in franchise history with his 12th 40-point game. The only guys ahead of him are Arenas (28), Walt Bellamy (23) and Bernard King (13).

The Wizards have now won three of their last four and five of eight. The road ahead, though, is about to get tougher. They host the Jazz, go on the road to Chicago, then welcome the Nuggets and Heat to town. Three of those teams are in the playoff picture currently and the Bulls have improved since trading for Otto Porter Jr.

2. Beal got his most of his points from the perimeter, where he set a career-high with nine 3-pointers. He had four of them in the first quarter alone. 

Those nine threes were the most for a Wizards/Bullets player since Trevor Ariza made 10 back in 2014. Ariza is the only other player in franchise history to make more than eight in a game.

The list of Wizards or Bullets players to make eight 3-pointers or more in a game is a random one. Also on there are Arenas, Rex Chapman, DeShawn Stevenson and Bojan Bogdanovic.

3. Bobby Portis had a nice bounce-back game. After combining for only nine points in his last two outings, he was much better against the Grizzlies.

It didn't start that way. In the first quarter, Portis airmailed a dunk attempt and was called for traveling. But soon after, he settled in and over and over was rewarded for running the floor and being active in the lane.

Portis had 18 points, six rebounds and shot 3-for-5 from three. It was much more like the Portis we are used to seeing. He spread the floor and did work on the glass.

Portis, by the way, is now shooting 45.2 percent from three on the season.

4. A big reason the Grizzlies stuck around in this game was the first half play by Chandler Parsons. Yeah, that Chandler Parsons -- the guy who has barely played this season because he was at odds with the front office.

Though Parsons has become famous for not living up to his contract, he turned back the clock against the Wizards. He popped off for 11 points in 10 minutes in the first half, including a swished three and a series of nifty moves off the dribble.

Parsons ended up with 16 points, a season-high. Even he can score against the Wizards' defense these days, apparently.

Joakim Noah also got in on the action. Much like Parsons, his best years are behind him. But he poured in 15 points with eight rebounds and gave the Wizards' bigs some real trouble.

5. Jordan McRae was with the Wizards for Saturday's game, though he didn't play. If he had, that would have been something, given he played for the Capital City Go-Go in the G-League earlier in the afternoon.

McRae, though, will probably be around a lot more in the coming weeks. After being with the Wizards on Saturday, he has eight days left on his 45-day two-way contract clock. But that only counts until the G-League regular season ends on March 23. 

With seven days until March 23, the Wizards are in the clear as far as having to convert him to an NBA contract. Technically, they already were as travel days and road off-days do not count.

But either way, expect to see McRae a lot more from here on out.

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Bradley Beal respects the rookie, but Luka Doncic's stepback isn't on his level: 'My s***’s better'

Bradley Beal respects the rookie, but Luka Doncic's stepback isn't on his level: 'My s***’s better'

Out with the old and in the with the new, right? That's what seems to be taking place in Dallas this season as the Mavericks prepare to potentially say goodbye to their 40-year-old legend Dirk Nowitzki. 

The new, however, seems awfully good. Rookie of the Year candidate Luka Doncic is averaging a staggering 20.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 5.5 assists through 64 games in the Association. 

The 20-year-old kept it rolling Wednesday night, finishing with 31 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists, and four steals in a 132-123 loss to the Wizards. 

Doncic is quickly building a reputation of having a killer stepback jumper, especially for a guy who stands 6-foot-7.

Bradley Beal, who finished with 30 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists himself, reminded everyone who the All-Star is between the two players. 

"My s***’s better," Beal joked with reporters speaking to his own stepback jumper. 

Jokes aside, we're looking at two versatile talents at the combo guard position who have a chance to dominate for a long, long time in the league. 

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