After the Washington Wizards dominated the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday night, the team now prepares for four games on the West Coast.
After missing the playoffs just a year ago, the Washington Wizards are returning to the NBA playoffs after clinching a playoff berth last Friday. Not only are the Wizards back in the playoffs, but also fighting for one of the top four spots in the Eastern Conference standings.
In addition, the Wizards’ magic number to win the Southeast Division is two now as they prepare for the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night. A division title would be the Wizards first since the 1978-79 season when they won the Atlantic Division and were still named the Bullets.
Following Friday’s playoff berth, the Wizards embarked a five-game road trip, which started in Cleveland with a riveting 127-115 win over LeBron (no, LeBron didn’t rest) and the Cavaliers Saturday night. John Wall outshined Kyrie Irving and the entire Cavs team, scoring 37 points 11 assists for his 47th double-double of the season.
If you somehow missed the Wizards defining victory in Cleveland, here’s the full highlight reel:
Wizards head West
The Wizards, who began the season 2-8, are amongst the top teams in the Eastern Conference and currently own the third seed, just a half-game ahead of the soaring Toronto Raptors.
On the other hand, the impassive and lackadaisical Cavaliers are in full free fall mode, losing four of their last six games including Monday night’s blowout loss against the San Antonio Spurs.
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As a result, the Boston Celtics have taken over first place in the East and puts the Wizards 2.5 games back from Boston for the top spot and now two games behind Cleveland for the second seed.
With nine games remaining in the 2017 regular season, the Wizards play seven of those nine games away from home. Furthermore, the Wizards hold the toughest remaining schedule out of any of the current eight playoff teams in the East. The first seed Celtics have the easiest remaining schedule out of the bunch with five of their last eight games at home.
Tonight, the Wizards open their West-Coast trip against the last-place Lakers before playing three of the Western Conference’s top five teams including the Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz, and reigning Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors. With the San Antonio Spurs creeping up on the Warriors in the West, it’s anticipated the Warriors will not rest any starters when the Wizards visit them Sunday night.
Washington Wizards news and notes from around the Internet
Wizards’ best and worst case first round playoff scenarios [The Baltimore Wire – Ben Palmer]
"If the season ended today, the first round playoff matchup for the Washington Wizards would be the Milwaukee Bucks, and that might actually be the worst case scenario for them"
Washington Wizards: A Look At 4 Potential Playoff Matchups [Wiz of Awes – Jerran Anderson]
"The Wizards still have a chance at moving up in the playoff picture. But the Boston Celtics are on a three-game winning streak and the Toronto Raptors on a five-game winning streak of their own, making the final stretch of games an important one for Washington."
Keys to the Palace: Multiple starters and reserves step up as Wizards clinch playoff spot [Bullets Forever – Albert Lee]
"They started out with a 110-102 loss against the Celtics last Monday. But they followed that up with three straight wins against the Hawks, Nets, and Cavaliers."
Thomas Boswell on the Wizards: ‘Pay attention to this team’ [The Washington Post – Post Sports Editors]
"This is NOT the same Wizards, but “just playing well.” This is the best and (now) deepest Wiz team since the late-’70’s. Pay attention to this team!"