Washington Wizards: Road Record Doomed Wizards Season

Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

This Washington Wizards season could have taken a different tone if they were even just slightly below mediocre on the road.

In their final road game of the year, the Washington Wizards failed to go out on a high note. Losing 113-110 to the league-worst New York Knicks, the Wizards’ troubles in away games ailed them all season long, and Sunday was no different.

Playing away from Capital One Arena was apparently no easy task for Washington. They will finish this season with a 10-31 road record, their worst since the 2012-2013 campaign when they went 7-34 in away games. The Wizards ended up with a 29-53 record that season.

To put in perspective how long ago that was, it was Bradley Beal‘s rookie season, Martell Webster and Emeka Okafor led the team in minutes played.

This season’s Wizards will finish with only a slightly better record from that squad, currently at 32-49 after Sunday’s loss with one last game remaining on Tuesday against the Boston Celtics at home.

Regardless of what happens on Tuesday, the team has already secured a winning record at home, where they’re currently 22-18. That’s one of the few bright spots this season, and not something to just dismiss as a given for most relatively competitive NBA teams.

For instance, the Miami Heat, who are still in the thick of the playoff race, have a losing record at home (18-22). To their credit, the Heat managed to stay at around .500 on the road, keeping their season alive. The same obviously cannot be said about the Wizards.

Looking back at the Wizards’ most recent playoff berths, it’s clear their road record doomed them from returning to the postseason this year.

In two of those seasons where they made the playoffs, Washington had nearly identical records at home as they did this season, at 22-19 in 2013-2014 (44-38 overall, No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference) and 23-18 in 2017-2018 (43-39 overall, No. 8 in the East), respectively. In the one season of the past five in which they didn’t qualify for the playoffs, 2015-2016, Washington still went 41-41, including 22-19 at home.

That all boils down to the fact that the Wizards didn’t have to be a winning team on the road, or even at .500, to have stayed in the playoff race this season. They’ve had losing road records before, but as long as it’s within reach of 20 wins, a team can still make the playoffs.

For example, three of the five playoff-bound teams in the East right now won’t finish with more than 21 wins on the road: Philadelphia 76ers (currently 20-20), Celtics (20-20), and Indiana Pacers (18-22). In the Western Conference, five of the eight playoff teams currently have 21 or less road wins (Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs).

Go through the schedule, and you’ll find easily winnable road games that the Wizards just let slip away. There were the two losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as losses to the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks. That’s four wins right there that would have put the Wizards in the thick of the postseason chase.

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The Wizards adequately took care of business at home. Through their dismal showings away from D.C., the Wizards gradually kept digging themselves a hole that they couldn’t climb out of, forcing them to squander a season that could have had more promise.