Tonight’s Opponent: The Washington Wizards
Playoff Status: Sixth in the Eastern Conference
Current Streak: W3
The Wizards enter tonight’s game against the Boston Celtics as a playoff team in search of an identity.
Currently holding onto the sixth spot, Washington is staring a first-round match-up with the Toronto Raptors in the face. I know that is the match-up Wizards fans probably most want to see, but there are still two other scenarios that could play out tonight for this team. For starters, if Washington wins they finish no worse than sixth, and could actually move into the fifth spot and a series with the Chicago Bulls if they win, the Bulls defeat the Bobcats, and the Nets and Raptors lose.
But the worst-case scenario for the Wizards is that they lose to the Cs and Charlotte defeats Chicago, in which case Washington drops all the way down to the seventh spot and enjoy a first-round date with the Miami Heat.
One of the reasons why the Wizards have enjoyed one of their best season in franchise history is their success from behind the arc: Washington ranks fourth in the NBA (tied with the golden State Warriors) from 3-point range, knocking down 38% of their attempts. Trevor Ariza connects on 41.2% of his long-distance attempts, with Bradley Beal close behind at 39.9%. On the season, the Wizards have made more 3-balls than their opponents (641-605) despite having been out shot from behind the arc (1686-1733). Imagine a playoff series against the Wizards and the Raptors, who rank right behind Washington with a success rate of 37.3% from deep – bombs away!
We’ll see how hard the Wizards come at Boston tonight, and how many minutes their starters rack up. The motivation to avoid the Heat in the first round is pretty powerful, I imagine, but should Chicago be manhandling the Bobcats late in their game, I wonder if the Wizards will keep their starters out on the floor or if they will simply be content to hang onto the sixth spot in the East.