NBA Playoffs are within reach for red-hot Wizards
The Washington Wizards' odds of making the 2021 NBA Playoffs took a hit on Monday night after a heartbreaking 146-143 overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Scott Brooks' squad is currently 27-34 and sitting in 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings. This puts the Wizards one game ahead of the Chicago Bulls for the final play-in spot.
Although the Wiz are down following their latest loss, they're certainly not out. Here are three reasons why Washington could be in the playoffs come late-May.
1. Westbrook is a fighter
The Wizards got off to a putrid start to the season. By mid-February, they were 6-17 and looking like an obvious seller come trade deadline time. Instead, they dug in deep and held on to Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal. They are 21-17 since Feb. 12, and Westbrook’s strong play is a major reason why.
Russ is averaging a triple-double this season at 21.8 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 10.9 assists per game. He also averages 1.3 steals per game. Westbrook has 29 triple-doubles this season! That is more than double the second place player, Nikola Jokic, even though he has played six fewer games than the prohibitive MVP.
Russ is not going to let this team miss the playoffs. He is hungry to keep playing, and did not let the ugly start to the season deter his mission to make this team compete.
2. The Wizards have been red-hot
Last night's game notwithstanding, is there a hotter team in the entire NBA right now than the Wizards? Washington has won 10 of its last 12 games, including two wins over the Golden State Warriors and a win over the Utah Jazz, who have the best record in the NBA.
Only the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers have won at least eight of their previous 10 games. They have climbed all the way back into the top 10 in the Eastern Conference, which is where you need to be to get into the play-in tournament.
Four of the Wizards’ final 11 games are against teams in the playoff bubble. They have two games against the Indiana Pacers, one against the Toronto Raptors, and one against the Charlotte Hornets. These games will be crucial for Washington to stay in that top 10.
Will the Washington Wizards make the playoffs?
3. Injuries are killing the competition
The Wizards’ biggest competition for that final playoff spot are the Hornets, Pacers, Raptors, and Bulls. For the Hornets, LaMelo Ball has not played since March 20, and may not play again for at least another week. They also have had Gordon Hayward out since April 2, and he may not play again for another two weeks.
The Bulls have had Zach LaVine out since April 14 due to COVID-19 protocols, and his return date is still unknown. The Indiana Pacers lost T.J. Warren for the season early on, and have been without Myles Turner for most of April. Domantas Sabonis has also been out for over 10 days, and his return remains questionable.
Washington's odds are too good to pass up
The Wizards are currently +240 to make the NBA playoffs, and those odds are simply too good to pass up in light of the reasons we've discussed above. Westbrook and Beal will ensure they get the job done down the stretch, and Washington will be a team that no contender wants to see in a first-round seven-game series.