The Wizards will have just 11 regular-season games left after Wednesday’s meeting with the Phoenix Suns. And barring a calamitous collapse, Washington will make the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season. In the fluid playoff picture, the Wizards could finish anywhere from fourth to eighth place, although they seem destined for a No. 5 or 6 seed. The team they draw in the first round could go a long way in determining how far the Wizards can go, so let’s take a look at some possible matchups.
Season record vs. Wizards: 3-1
The Raptors are in line to win the Atlantic Division and earn the No. 3 seed. Toronto had the Wizards’ number in the teams’ first three contests, winning by an average of 10.3 points per game, but Washington captured a thrilling, triple-overtime win in Toronto in late February. The Raptors have the guards in DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry to keep up with Washington and a solid group of interior players led by Jonas Valanciunas, but they’ve also had a long playoff drought and could have some postseason jitters.
Odds the Wizards advance: It would be a tossup between two similarly built teams.
Season record vs. Wizards: 0-2, one game remaining (April 5)
One of the unheralded stories of the season is what Tom Thibodeau’s Bulls have been able to accomplish while playing with a ragtag unit missing the injured Derrick Rose and the traded Luol Deng. Chicago is a nasty, smothering squad personified by professional pest and MVP candidate Joakim Noah and the Bulls have only gotten better since the Wizards beat them twice in a five-day span back in January. Chicago is arguably the worst matchup Washington could draw in the postseason.
Odds the Wizards advance: This would probably not end well for the Wizards.
Season record vs. Wizards: 0-3
The Nets got off to a painfully slow start before rounding into form. They currently hold a 1½-game edge over Washington for the fifth spot in the conference, meaning the odds are slim these teams would meet in the playoffs. That’s too bad, because Washington has a big advantage in youth and speed against Brooklyn. Rookie coach Jason Kidd figures to have some speed bumps in coaching playoff basketball, too. The Wizards have won all three matchups, but they’ve been close (by an average of 5.7 points a game).
Odds the Wizards advance: A good matchup for Washington, but highly unlikely.
Season record vs. Wizards: 2-1, one game remaining (April 14)
If the Wizards really stumble down the stretch, they could find themselves in the No. 7 slot and with an unfortunate matchup against the defending champs. Washington has acquitted itself well this season against its division rivals, but LeBron James & Co. would be geared up to get this series done as quickly as possible. The Wizards held a fourth-quarter lead in a March 10 matchup with Miami, but Dwyane Wade took over down the stretch for a 99-90 Heat triumph.
Odds the Wizards advance: Miami could very well sweep the Wizards in this mismatch.