Wizards

Nats, Caps remind Wizards fans that D.C. teams defy odds

Wizards

The District of Champions is full of teams ready to defy the odds. The 2021 Wizards are no different.

After Washington's April 5 loss to the Raptors without star guard Bradley Beal, the Wizards were closer to the basement of the Eastern Conference standings at 17-32 than they were to the play-in spots. ESPN's BPI index, a popular predictor tool to determine the strength of a team, gave them just a 0.6% chance to make the postseason.

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Russell Westbrook and company matched their win total to that point in the final 23 games of the regular season to secure the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference standings. 

The Nationals, who had quite the similar run of their own, came back with the perfect retort. 

"Never tell DC the odds," the Nats social team tweeted. 

In 2019, the Nationals went 19-31 to start the regular season before turning things around en route to the franchise's first-ever World Series triumph. The Nats were given a 22.2% chance to make the postseason that year, according to FanGraphs. They had just a 3.9% shot at winning the World Series. 

Clutch hitting from guys like Howie Kendrick and Juan Soto and elite pitching from Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer helped the Nats overcome those steep odds to lift the ultimate prize. But they weren't the only local team to accomplish such a feat. 

A year earlier, when Washington went down 0-2 in their first-round series against the Blue Jackets it appeared as though another disappointing early exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was approaching for Alex Ovechkin and company. Historically, road teams that win the first two games of a seven-game playoff series in the NHL go on to win the series 82% of the time, according to Hockey Reference.

 

A much-needed double-overtime Game 3 turned the Caps' fortunes around before winning their next four versus Columbus. Ovi finally got over the second-round hump against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in six games as Caps fans began believing that 2018 could finally be the year they lift Lord Stanley. 

The Caps did just that. After a grueling seven-game series over the Lightning, the Caps overcame Vegas in five games and the celebratory bender was on. 

Of course, both the Caps and Nats had higher expectations than the Wizards heading into this crazy 2020-21 season. Still, with odds not nearly as low as the Wizards' midseason chances to qualify for the playoffs, the Wizards could very well continue defying the odds like their D.C. sports predecessors. 

Tune in at noon on Sunday for the start of NBC Sports Washington's coverage of the Wizards' first-round series with Philadelphia.