What do the Wizards have to do to make the playoffs?

Rob Carr

It's farfetched, I know, but for those asking: here's what it'll probably take for Washington to be a playoff team this year.

I can't believe I'm going to talk about this, but ... with the Washington Wizards surging and the Boston Celtics losing their best player, there are plenty of people around here who want to talk about the playoffs. So, I guess it's worth at least examining what it would take for the Wizards to make an improbable run for the eighth seed.

The Celtics currently occupy the No. 8 slot in the East. At 21-23, they have a winning percentage of a little over 47. A 47-percent winning percentage over 82 games would put the Celtics at 39-43.

Of course, that's with Rajon Rondo in the lineup. Without Rondo, the Celtics are unlikely to maintain their current pace. Given that the next batch of teams are still at least 2.5 games behind the Celtics for the race to the eighth spot, it's reasonable to think that fewer than 39 wins gets you in the postseason. For the sake of this exercise, let's assume that 37 is the magic number for all the teams behind Boston.

Here is how each team in the East would have to finish to get to 37 wins:

  • Boston: 16-22 (42 percent)
  • Philadelphia: 19-20 (49 percent)
  • Detroit: 20-18 (53 percent)
  • Toronto: 21-17 (55 percent)
  • Orlando: 23-16 (59 percent)
  • Cleveland: 24-13 (65 percent)
  • Washington: 26-14 (65 percent)
  • Charlotte: 26-13 (67 percent)

Can the Wizards win 65 percent of their remaining games? On the one hand, the Wizards are 7-3 (70 percent) in their last 10 games, and that includes a long west coast swing. So ... there's hope, I guess?

On the other hand ... it's hard to maintain a 65-percent winning percentage for half a season. Only five teams in the NBA currently have winning percentages above 65: San Antonio, Oklahoma City, the L.A. Clippers, Miami and Memphis. The Wizards would essentially have to be one of the very best teams in the league to even put themselves in a position to make the postseason.

Anything is possible, of course, but it'd take a hell of an effort.

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