Planting Seeds: What Playoff Opponent Would Most Favor the Wizards?


A quick look at the NBA Eastern Conference Standings shows two front-runners, the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics, and a crowded number of teams stacked in the middle. It seems to be anyone’s guess as to how all the seedings will shake out, but we will be taking a look at the possible playoff match-ups for the Washington Wizards, and which opponent would be most favorable for them to advance.

If the Season Ended With the Standings Above (Wizards vs. Pacers)

Let’s say for the sake of argument, the standings remain exactly the same as above. The Wizards would be the #4 seed vs. the #5 seeded Indiana Pacers. Ideally, this would be the most beneficial match-up for Washington for several reasons. First, they would have a much-needed home court advantage. Secondly, they match up well against a Pacers team that they have defeated twice out of three times this season. Finally, assuming John Wall is back and healthy for the playoffs, the Pacers have yet to see Wall during the regular season, and this could drastically change the Pacers’ strategy that may have worked in the past. If this is the Wizards match-up, I see them advancing in five games.

The Wizards vs. Philadelphia 76ers:

The Wizards and 76ers currently hold the same number of losses in the standings, and could very well see each other in the early stages of the playoffs. The two teams have split their series this season, with the home team prevailing in all of the four games. With that in mind, the Wizards should hope that they are the higher seed in this round. When looking for clues as to how this series would shake out with John Wall back, you’d have to go back to the season opener. The Wizards found a way to hold onto victory, but the 76ers made their life difficult with a strong second quarter to take the lead at the half.  The Wizards will need to rely on a strong showing by Otto Porter Jr. and timely threes by Bradley Beal in order to find a way to advance in this series. This series would push the Wizards to the brink, but they would ultimately find a way to advance in game seven.

The Wizards vs. Milwaukee Bucks:

This series is likely to happen only if the Wizards find a way to climb to the third seed in the East, and if Milwaukee is able to win some key games down the stretch. Even so, the Wizards would want to avoid seeing the “Greek Freak” in the first round of the playoffs.  Personally, I feel this match-up could be disastrous for the Wizards, as they have had trouble matching up with this squad. After splitting the season series 2-2, the Wizards would really need to play their best basketball in order to knock off these scrappy Bucks. Look for the Bucks to make more plays in the deciding moments of the game in order to advance in an upset over the Wizards in seven games.

The Wizards vs. Cleveland Cavaliers:

As with the series against the Bucks, this is another squad that would not benefit the Wizards to see in the first round of the playoffs. The Wizards have defeated the Cavs in their last game against each other, but the Cavs won the past five out of seven games against Washington. If the Wizards are able to gain some momentum, in the way of winning their opening series and playing the Cavaliers in either the second or championship round of the playoffs, I would like their chances better. However, this particular opening series would be incredibly difficult to find a way to advance. The Cavaliers would advance in six games.

Playoff Outlook:

Overall, the Wizards have an above-average chance of advancing past the first round of the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six seasons. However, it is essential for Washington to continue to find ways to win these next twelve games that lie ahead so they can do everything they can to improve their playoff seeding. The teams that crowd the middle of the standings in the East are very similar, and it would only benefit Washington to have the home crowd behind them more often than not. For now, Washington fans can breathe a sigh of relief that their team should qualify for the playoffs, as their “magic number” is down to three.

Photo Credit: FiveThirtyEight



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