Over the last month, Alan Jenkins wrote that the Wizards should go for a playoff push, partly because they were just three games behind the Orlando Magic for the eighth seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Also, the Wizards were playing relatively well with a young roster and didn’t make any “all-in” moves at the NBA trade deadline. So why not?
We are now just three weeks into the post-All-Star Break part of the NBA season. The Wizards are still ninth in the Eastern Conference, but they are now 22-38 while the Magic are 27-34. That’s a 4.5 game difference, partly because Washington started their post All-Star Break schedule with a three-game losing streak and 2-5 overall.
That 4.5 game difference doesn’t sound like much, but there are only 22 games left to play this season. Washington would have to go on a long winning streak (they have yet to win three in a row this season) while Orlando would have to also go on an even longer losing streak. They begin a four-game road trip at the Miami Heat today, so perhaps that’s possible.
Also, that 4.5 game difference against the Magic is really 5.5 games. This is because Washington lost all four of their regular season matches this season to Orlando.
I hate to break it to everyone who’s holding out hope for a playoff berth. But it’s effectively over. Washington’s best chance to make things very interesting was to start out with two wins against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Feb. 21 and the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 23. Both teams had worse records than the Wizards, but the Wizards managed to lose them anyway.
And yesterday’s loss to the Sacramento Kings was just another lost opportunity to keep the pressure on the Magic.
Though the Wizards’ playoff hopes are nearly over, I also don’t think they should just “shut down” Bradley Beal, who could be in the conversation for an All-NBA team spot given his scoring production over the last month. But at some point, Beal shouldn’t keep logging heavy minutes, especially if and when Washington is mathematically eliminated from a berth.