Wizards

Wizards

The Wizards' path to the 2020 NBA Playoffs is now a little bit more defined, as the league has released its eight-game schedule to close out the regular season. 

Those eight opponents are as follows: the Suns, Nets, Pacers, Sixers, Pelicans, Thunder, Bucks and Celtics. Those are mostly playoff teams, which was to be expected when the NBA opted to only bring the teams with the 22-best records to Orlando for its restart.

The Wizards' opponents have a combined win percentage of .576, which would equate to 47 wins in an 82-game season. Of the eight teams, five of them have winning records.

Washington will play the Bucks, who own the NBA's record, as well as the 43-21 Celtics and 40-24 Thunder. The Wizards have a combined record of 6-5 against their final eight opponents.

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The focus, though, is on the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic, whom the Wizards have to get within four games of to force a play-in tournament to qualify for the playoffs. The Magic are 5 1/2 games ahead of Washington with the Brooklyn Nets just 1 1/2 games ahead of Orlando in seventh.

The Wizards have to cut away 1 1/2 games from the Magic's lead to force the play-in tournament, in which they would have to beat the eight-seed twice without losing to make the full playoff bracket. In order to do that, and get within four games, the Wizards will have to finish with two more wins than Orlando as each closes out their season

 

 

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So, if the Wizards go 4-4, the Magic would have to go 2-6. If the Wizards go 6-2, the Magic would have to go 4-4 or worse. And if the Wizards bottom out and go 1-7 or 0-8, they have no chance of qualifying. 

If the Wizards erase the 1 1/2 game hole and force the play-in tournament, they may have to play a Magic team that has dominated them so far this season. Orlando is 4-0 against Washington. The Wizards, meanwhile, are 2-0 against the Nets, their other potential opponent.

There are some other factors to consider in the Wizards' quest for the playoffs. They are just 6-18 against teams with .500 or better records this season. They are also 16-16 at home, but a terrible 8-24 on the road. 

The games at Disney World won't be traditional road games, in that they won't see hostile crowds or have to travel in between them. But they won't be home games, either. How the Wizards fare in a neutral court environment will be something to watch.

There are a lot of factors at play, but the Wizards have a chance, which they can embrace after all that has transpired in recent months.

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