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2017 NBA Playoffs bracket projection: Wizards draw Hawks in 1st round

2017 NBA Playoffs bracket projection: Wizards draw Hawks in 1st round

Not a whole lot changed in the NBA's playoff picture on Tuesday night, as most of the teams in action have already been eliminated. We did, however, learn that the Atlanta Hawks will be the No. 5 seed and the Milwaukee Bucks will be sixth in the Eastern Conference.

That means the Hawks will face the Washington Wizards in the first round beginning this weekend. The times and dates have not been determined, though the series will start at the Verizon Center with the Wizards holding homecourt advantage.

The Hawks now have nothing to play for in their final regular season game on Wednesday and that could be interesting because they close out against the Indiana Pacers, who have yet to clinch a playoff spot. Right now the Pacers are seventh in the conference and control their own destiny. One more win and they are in.

The Bulls and Heat enter Wednesday with the same record. Chicago is currently eighth by way of their head-to-head record against Miami and they play the last-place Nets on Wednesday. Brooklyn also just happens to be resting many of their best players. The Heat play the Wizards, who could either rest some players outright or limit their minutes.

Also yet to be determined is the top seed in the East. The Celtics, who are currently a game ahead of the No. 2 Cavs, have the Bucks on Wednesday while Cleveland battles the Raptors.

In the West, we still don't know who will have homecourt advantage in 4-5 series between the Clippers and Jazz. The Clippers are currently by way of a tiebreaker and close out their season against the lowly Kings. The Jazz have to play the Spurs.

[RELATED: Wizards' opponent set for first round of NBA Playoffs]

Here is what we know: 

EAST: 

- the Cavs, Celtics, Raptors, Wizards, Hawks and Bucks have clinched playoff spots. The Pacers and Bulls currently hold the seventh and eight seeds, though they haven't clinched.

- the Wizards are locked into the fourth seed and will play the Hawks, the fifth seed

- the Bucks will be the sixth seed

WEST:

- the Warriors, Spurs, Rockets, Clippers, Jazz, Thunder, Grizzlies and Blazers have clinched playoff spots

- the Warriors will be the No. 1 seed, the Spurs will be No. 2, the Rockets No. 3, the Thunder No. 6, the Grizzlies No. 7 and the Blazers No. 8

- the No. 1 Warriors will face the No. 8 Blazers, the No. 2 Spurs will battle the No. 7 Grizzles, the No. 3 Rockets will play the No. 6 Thunder

Here is what we don't know:

EAST:

- the last two playoff spots

- which teams will get the 1-3 and 7-8 seeds

WEST:

- whether the Clippers or Jazz will earn the four seed and therefore have home court advantage in their 4-5 series 

Here is what the playoff picture looks like currently:

2017 NBA PLAYOFFS BRACKET PROJECTION

Eastern Conference (As of Wednesday morning 4/12):

No. 1 Boston Celtics (52-29) vs. No. 8 Chicago Bulls (40-41)

No. 2 Cleveland Cavaliers (51-30) vs. No. 7 Indiana Pacers (41-40)

No. 3 Toronto Raptors (50-31) vs. No. 6 Milwaukee Bucks (42-39)

No. 4 Washington Wizards (49-32) vs. No. 5 Atlanta Hawks (43-38)

Western Conference (As of Wednesday morning 4/12):

No. 1 Golden State Warriors (66-15) vs. No. 8 Portland Trail Blazers (41-40)

No. 2 San Antonio Spurs (61-20) vs. No. 7 Memphis Grizzlies (43-38)

No. 3 Houston Rockets (54-27) vs. No. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder (47-34)

No. 4 L.A. Clippers (50-31) vs. No. 5 Utah Jazz (50-31)

[RELATED: Wizards complete biggest turnaround from 2-8 in NBA history]

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NBA offseason grades: Wizards, Magic highlight Southeast Division

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USA TODAY Sports

NBA offseason grades: Wizards, Magic highlight Southeast Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Southeast Division...

Washington Wizards, B+

2017-18 finish: 43-39, 1st round of playoffs
In: C Dwight Howard, G Austin Rivers, G Troy Brown, Jr., F Jeff Green, C Thomas Bryant
Out: C Marcin Gortat, F Mike Scott, G Ty Lawson, G Tim Frazier, G Ramon Sessions, F Chris McCullough

Given the circumstances of their salary cap situation, the Wizards did quite well for themselves this summer. They shook things up by trading Gortat and actually got something solid back for him in Rivers. They then filled Gortat's spot with an eight-time All-Star in Howard and did so at a bargain price, the taxpayer mid-level exception. They also added Green at a nice price and Brown, who acquitted himself nicely in the Summer League. Whether the Wizards made a major leap forward is debatable, but the potential is there for them to re-install themselves as contenders in the East. The possibility things go wrong is also there, but all in all, a strong summer for the Wizards.

Atlanta Hawks, B

2017-18 finish: 24-58, missed playoffs
In: G Jeremy Lin, C Alex Len, G Trae Young, G Vince Carter, G Kevin Huerter, F Justin Anderson, F Omari Spellman
Out: G Dennis Schroeder, C Mike Muscala, C Dewayne Dedmon, G Malcolm Delaney, G Isaiah Tayor

The Hawks did a nice job with the draft by picking up an extra first round pick just to move back two spots (from third to fifth) in their trade with the Mavericks. They added Young with the fifth pick and then got Huerter later on at No. 18. The Len signing at two years and $8.5 million looks like a bargain and they added a nice mix of veteran free agents and young players to develop. It will probably be a few years before the Hawks are back in the playoffs, but they seemed to take a step forward this summer.

Miami Heat, D

2017-18 finish: 44-38, 1st round of playoffs
In: F Duncan Robinson
Out: G Dwyane Wade, G Wayne Ellington, F Luke Babbitt

The Heat had one of the least impactful summers of any team in the NBA. The biggest addition they have so far, and this is true, is Robinson. They didn't make any draft picks and struck out in free agency. What they did do is let go of Wade, Ellington and others. The only way the Heat improve year-over-year is if their young guys like Bam Adebayo or Justise Winslow take a big step forward. 

Charlotte Hornets, C+

2017-18 finish: 36-46, missed playoffs
In: C Bismack Biyombo, F Miles Bridges, G Devonte' Graham
Out: C Dwight Howard, G Michael Carter-Williams, G Treveon Graham

New Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak quickly turned the franchise into a different direction this offseason by trading Howard to the Nets. They then added Biyombo in a deal with the Magic and acquired Bridges through the draft. There isn't a lot to love or hate about the Hornets' offseason, so they fall in the middle of the grading scale. The real question now is what they do with Kemba Walker, who has just one year left on his contract.

Orlando Magic, B+

2017-18 finish: 25-57, missed playoffs
In: C Mohamed Bamba, C Timofey Mozgov, F Justin Jackson, F Jarell Martin, G Jerian Grant
Out: G Mario Hezonja, C Marreese Speights, G Arron Aflalo

The Magic had a strong summer. The re-signed forward Aaron Gordon, a rising young player, and drafted Bamba, who has the tools to become an All-Star and a dominant defensive force. They had some questionable moves, like trading for Mozgov, but the future looks a lot brighter for the Magic than it did just a few months ago.

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Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

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Associated Press

Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

Despite being a brand new franchise with a new roster and new facilities, the Capital City Go-Go will carry into their inaugural season a level of continuity. Both their general manager and head coach are familiar with what they are getting into and the people they will be working with.

GM Pops Mensah-Bonsu is no stranger to the D.C. community and the Wizards franchise. He made a name for himself starring at George Washington University, spent time with the Wizards as a player in their 2013 training camp and remained a frequent visitor to Wizards games as a scout for the Spurs in recent years.

"To be back in the community and the first general manager of the G-League team is special," Mensah-Bonsu said. "This is D.C.’s team. I want them to embrace us."

Head coach Jarell Christian played college ball in Virginia and goes back several years with Wizards coach Scott Brooks. Christian joined the Oklahoma City's G-League staff when Brooks was in his final year as head coach of the Thunder.

Christian began his coaching journey with an eye trained on how Brooks goes about his job.

"My introduction to pro basketball was under Coach Brooks and his philosophies. A lot of that stuff, I believe in wholeheartedly. That’s my foundation," Christian said. "I got a chance to know him through training camp and throughout that season. He and I developed a bond and a relationship that stood the test of time. To this day, we still talk often. It’s just another chance for me to reconnect with him and to continue to grow our relationship."

The Go-Go intend to make what they do as similar to the Wizards as possible. When guys like Devin Robinson, one of their two-way players, is called up he can step right in without a learning curve of the playbook or how they practice.

Having Christian in place will help that process in particular.

"There won’t be any issue or any slippage with guys going up and down to know what’s in store for them," Christian said. "A lot of the stuff that the Wizards will do, we will implement with the Go-Go. Just some offensive and defensive concepts. Some of the playcalls and the terminology will be the same."

"Whatever you see the Wizards doing, you will probably see the Capital City Go-Go doing, too," Mensah-Bonsu said.

The symmetry between the G-League and the NBA teams will also be helped by the fact they will share the same practice facility. Their proximity will come with many advantages from the Go-Go perspective.

"I think it’s going to help motivate these guys. We’re going to be practicing in the same place that the Wizards do and the Mystics do," Mensah-Bonsu said. "I think if these guys can see Dwight Howard and John Wall and Bradley Beal walking around every day, it will help motivate them to get to that next level."

"The exposure our players get with the Wizards [front office], the Wizards personnel, being able to watch them practice daily, watching their practice habits and what their routines may be, is really big," Christian said.

That element will also apply beyond the players. Christian, who is just 32 years old, will get to watch how an NBA coaching staff operates on a daily basis.

Christian has yet to take a tour of the new building in Ward 8, but he has seen blueprints. Among the amenities the Go-Go will enjoy that other G-League teams do not usually have is a dedicated dining area.

Many G-League teams do not go to that length.

"A lot of organizations do not provide food for their players on a daily basis, but we will. That’s the No. 1 thing in my opinion that’s gonna set us apart from our competitors," he said.

The Go-Go won't take the floor for their first game until November, but it seems like a good foundation is starting to take place.

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