Washington and Charlotte are tied at 40-38 but the Bobcats have control of the tiebreaker should the teams finish with the same record. With four games remaining, the Wizards still have a chance to avoid a first-round matchup against either Indiana or Miami, the two-time defending champions.
They have a favorable schedule, with only one game against a team with a winning record remaining. But the Wizards also may have been presented an opening to finish with a better record than Charlotte after Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker suffered a groin injury in Wednesday’s game.
Walker is “questionable” for Charlotte’s game on Friday in Boston but Bobcats Coach Steve Clifford told the Charlotte Observer that the listing is optimistic. Clifford made it obvious that seeding didn’t matter before leading his team to a victory over the Wizards and wants to be cautious with Walker.
The Bobcats are 4-3 this season with Walker, who is averaging career highs of 17.8 points and 6.1 assists in 71 games. They defeated two playoff teams in the Los Angeles Clippers and Toronto Raptors but they also surrendered 62 points to Carmelo Anthony in a loss to New York without Walker. Ramon Sessions was Walker’s primary backup but has since been traded to Milwaukee for Luke Ridnour. Ridnour will likely get the starting nod if Walker can’t play but is averaging just 3.1 points in 21 games for the Bobcats.
Walker told the Observer that he got injured chasing around Wall on Wednesday, when he had 17 points and 12 assists and made the only field goal in overtime – a deep three-pointer over John Wall. After the game, Walker echoed his coach in declaring that he isn’t concerned about where the Bobcats wind up in the postseason.
The Bobcats will conclude the season against Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago.
“We don’t really mind who we play in the playoffs,” Walker said. “Regardless of who we play, it is going to be tough. Of course we want to keep on getting better. Especially going into the playoffs, we want to develop our game and continue our momentum going into the playoffs.”
The Wizards players have been vocal about not wanting to slide to seventh but have lost three of their past four games. They will take on the Orlando Magic on Friday, host the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday and Miami on Monday and finish the season in Boston.
The Heat will face Indiana on Friday without Dwyane Wade in a battle for the top overall seed on Friday in Miami. If Miami loses, the Heat might not be focused on chasing the Pacers entering Monday’s game. Coach Randy Wittman doesn’t want his players to let down their guards as they get ready for the postseason.
“It shouldn’t be a surprise,” Wittman said. “We’re going to get Orlando’s best shot. We’re going to get Milwaukee’s best shot. You don’t think coming down the end of the season, Milwaukee is going to point, ‘That’s where we want to be, where Washington is?’ Miami’s going to give us their best shot. All right. You kidding me? Boston’s going to give us their best shot. We clinched against Boston, shot 65 percent and their coach called it an ’embarrassment’ for them. You don’t think they’re going to give us their best shot? These last four games, we’re going to get that shot and you’ve got to be prepared for that, mentally and physically. You’ve got to flip the script and set the tone, right away in games.”