Throughout the course of Wednesday night’s Eastern Conference games, it became increasingly apparent that the Wizards were complacent with remaining the #8 seed and facing the Toronto Raptors to open the NBA playoffs. Washington simply looked lethargic, at best, against the Orlando Magic in a chance to improve their playoff seeding. Had the Wizards won, they would have matched up with the Boston Celtics as the #7 seed, but alas, they have a tall order on their hands with facing the best regular season team in the Eastern Conference.
Wizards and Raptors begin SATURDAY at 530 pm on ESPN pic.twitter.com/t0WPb7dVlb
— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) April 12, 2018
Historically, the eight seed in the NBA playoffs has been a near death sentence, with that seed advancing just five times since 1994. In the Eastern Conference, the 1998-1999 New York Knicks and the 2012 Philadelphia 76ers (when the #1 seeded-Bulls’ Derrick Rose tore his ACL) were the only teams to advance as an eight seed. So, do the Wizards have the DNA of a team that could be poised for a first round upset? If they do, they surely haven’t acted like it as of late, with their last quality win coming against Boston on Tuesday night, and finishing the season 3-7 in their last ten games.
Typically when looking for signs on whether a team has the capability of making a surprise run in the playoffs, they have a solid stretch of basketball going in their favor or a favorable match-up versus their opponent. The Wizards split the season series with Toronto during the regular season, and showed the ability to win on the road in the early part of the season. Fast forward to the end of this season, and John Wall has finally returned from a significant knee injury and is beginning to find his place again with his teammates. The Wizards are backpedaling into this year’s postseason, yet some analysts have them pegged as a “darkhorse” in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Paul Pierce on ESPN: 'My surprise team will be the Washington Wizards. I do believe they have what it takes… to advance out of the first round against the No. 1 seed Toronto Raptors.'
— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) April 12, 2018
In reality, Toronto is a favorable match-up for the Wizards, who have the ability to catch fire at any given time against a worthy opponent. That is what makes this series so difficult to predict: We simply don’t know which Wizards team will show up. If the “good” Wizards team hits the floor, then of course they have the capability and roster strength to upend the Raptors. If the team that we have seen for the past three weeks hits the court, the Wizards will be run out of the gym in four straight games.
The Wizards, who swept the Raptors in the 2015 playoffs, will face the Raptors in the 2018 playoffs. We’ve got a feeling it may not end the same way this time around. https://t.co/19WGQpEtHc
— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) April 12, 2018
Prediction: In any other year, I would be willing to go out on a limb to predict the Wizards to knock off the Raptors and advance to the second round of the playoffs, but this team has too many question marks to be seriously considered a threat to the top-seeded Toronto.
Raptors in Six Games
Photo Credit: WTOP.com