Washington Wizards: Hot start will be key for playoff push

If the Washington Wizards are going to make the playoffs in the NBA bubble, they need to get off to a hot start.

The Washington Wizards are far from favrites to win the NBA title or even the Eastern Conference. Some don’t even think they should be in Orlando. But they’re in the bubble, and since they’re in, they have a chance. While their chance of a championship is slim, their chance of making the playoffs during this less than conventional season is very real.

The Wizards enter “bubble play” trailing the seventh place Brooklyn Nets by 6.0 games and the eighth-place Orlando Magic by 5.5 games. By the end of the eight seeding games, the Wizards need to be within at least 4.0 games of whichever team finishes in the eighth seed.

Eight games certainly isn’t a lot of time to make up ground, but the Wizards only have to make up 2.0 games max to force some play-in games. Easier said than done, but doable.

Washington Wizards can make quick ground in the playoff race with a hot start.

The road to the playoffs won’t be easy for the Wizards. The schedule makers didn’t do them any favors when planning their final eight seeding games. But the first two games of the restart will be massive for the Wizards if they hope to make a legitimate playoff push. Mainly because they’re the two most winnable games.

The Wizards restart their season vs. the Phoenix Suns and then play the Brookly Nets in their second of the eight seeding games. That’s two games against teams currently below 0.500. After opening up vs. two teams with a losing record, the Wizards will play five of their final six games vs. teams with a winning one.

Plus, the Wizards get a head to head matchup against the Nets, one team standing directly in their way of a playoff birth. And while the Wizards won’t be at full strength (Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans, and John Wall are all outside the bubble), the Nets won’t be either. Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince, and Wilson Chandler will not be suiting up for the Nets when the season restarts.

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If the Wizards can’t do it all themselves, they could get some help in the bubble from an unlikely ally – the Orlando Magic. The Magic play the Nets twice during the final eight games. Both times, playoff implications will be on the line.

Already on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, the depleted Wizards’ road to the playoffs will not be an easy one. But if they come out of the gates hot and get wins against two of their weaker opponents in the Suns and Nets, they’ll be well on their way to one of the more unlikely playoff births in recent memory.

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