For the first time since 2008 the Washington Wizards have a magic number, meaning that if they win a certain amount of games they will reach the playoffs. Currently the Wizards’ magic number is just 1 so with just 1 New York Knicks loss or a Wizards win, the team will clinch a playoff spot. What may seem trivial to an average basketball fan is a huge deal for Wizards nation.
While clinching a playoff spot is the current primary goal for the Wizards a bigger goal is to evade the 7th and 8th spots in the eastern conference. To win the eastern conference, yes the path will probably go through the Heat and or the Pacers however, playing one of those 2 teams in the first round will make the path much more difficult. As the playoff seeding currently stands, the Wizards have a 2 game lead over the Bobcats with the 6th seed. If the playoffs were to start today the Wizards would be facing the raptors with Toronto having the home court advantage.
Many Wizards fans and media believe that even though they will be the road team in the series, playing the Raptors is probably a better spot for them in the playoffs than moving up to the fourth or fifth spot. If the Wizards were able to usurp the Nets then they would play the bulls on the road or if more unlikely the Wizards were able to move up to the 3rd and play the Nets. Both the Bulls and the Nets are veteran laden squads who have proven players with playoff experience. On the contrary, the Raptors in many regards resemble the Wizards in that they are a young group with few players who possess playoff experience. It is always fun to play the “what if” game but when speaking candidly, the Wizards will gladly play anyone even including the Heat and Pacers.
Honestly, the Wizards have the talent and veteran presence to give any team a good series at least. Matchup wise, I think that playing the Raptors would indeed be the Wizards’ best bet to advance. I think the Wizards have been able to successfully build the depth in the draft and through free agent acquisitions so that they are now in a position where they can compete night in and night out with any team. Whether it be the Raptors, Bulls, Nets or even in a worst case scenario the Pacers or the Heat I fully expect the Wizards to fight tooth and nail game in and game out and from there whatever happens, happens.