When the NBA resumes its season in a month in Orlando, the Wizards find themselves six games behind the Magic for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
However, with the league's modified season, the Wizards only have to make up two games on the Magic in order to force a play-in tournament for the final position. The Brooklyn Nets, who currently sit seventh in the conference, are just a half-game ahead of the Magic and 6.5 games ahead of the Wizards.
So, for Wizards fans, there's some hope. But former Wizards wing Paul Pierce advises Washington fans to keep that hope to a minimum. On Tuesday's episode of The Jump, host Rachel Nichols asked Pierce whether he thought the Wizards had a chance to make a playoff push, and the forward had little optimism for his former team.
"I don't think so," Pierce said on the if the Wizards can get the eighth seed. "Barring the circumstances, no John Wall, no [Davis] Bertans, the Wizards are climbing Mount Everest."
With so many Nets players staying home from Orlando, are the Wizards' chances of forcing a play-in game in the East improving? Former Wizard Paul "I called game" Pierce says...nope 😂 But @WindhorstESPN and I give them a shot: pic.twitter.com/LxLgOpE5Pz— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) June 30, 2020
Several players, including the sharpshooting Bertans, have chosen to opt-out of the restart for a number of reasons. But perhaps no team has faced the burden of having their players choose to forgo the remainder of the season more than the Nets, a team the Wizards are directly competing with for that final spot.
The Nets were already without their two superstars; both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will not play in Orlando due to injury. On Monday, another starter, center DeAndre Jordan, announced he additionally would not be traveling to Orlando after testing positive for COVID-19. Spencer Dinwiddie, a 20-point scorer this season, also tested positive for the virus and his status for the season is in doubt.
With the Nets missing a majority of their best players, the door for the Wizards to make up ground on Brooklyn appears to be wide open. But without Bertans and Wall, who Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard confirmed earlier this week would not be traveling to Orlando, Pierce thinks the Wizards lack enough star power themselves to truly make a run at the final postseason spot.
"[The Wizards] are in an evaluation period themselves," Pierce said. "Bradley Beal, he's going to go out there and put up big numbers. But to be six games out, I know they have to be within four, only eight games to play, I think they're climbing Mount Everest. It's an evaluation period."
Pierce isn't the only one who feels this way about Washington, either. On Monday, ESPN host Stephen A. Smith was asked whether he thought the Wizards should be included in the restart. His answer? "Hell no."
However, one analyst does believe the Wizards have a shot. After Pierce finished saying why he believes the Wizards don't have a chance, ESPN analyst Brian Windhorst explained why he feels the opposite.
"I think the Wizards got a shot here," Windhorst said. "These two teams play each other the second game. The Nets come out and play the team directly behind them, Orlando, first and then Washington second. If they split those games or they win them both, I think Bradley Beal could be looking at taking some time off. But if they lose those games and they beat the Nets and maybe get in their head that they could beat them in a play-in series, I think it gets interesting."
The odds may be stacked against the Wizards, but you never know what can happen. The games aren't played on paper for a reason.
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