The Wizards are in control of their playoff destiny, and as of now, they're likely to avoid a first round matchup against Indiana or Miami.
First, let's take a look at the standings as of today.
Playoff Teams as of Today
1. Indiana Pacers (51-20)
2. Miami Heat (48-21), 2 GB Indy
3. Chicago Bulls (40-31), 9 GB Miami
4. Toronto Raptors (39-31), 9.5 GB Miami
5. Brooklyn Nets (37-32), 2 GB Chicago, 1.5 GB Toronto where they could have home court advantage
6. Washington Wizards (36-34), 1.5 GB Brooklyn
7. Charlotte Bobcats (34-37), 2.5 GB Washington
8. Atlanta Hawks, (31-38), 4.5 GB Washington
On the outside looking in
9. New York Knicks (29-42), 3 GB Atlanta
10. Cleveland Cavaliers (28-44), 4.5 GB Atlanta
John Wall still has areas to improve
Wall has made great strides this season, but he still has to improve his decision making on whether to drive, his ball handling, and how he defends smaller guards.
While the Wizards are in sixth place and have a winning record both at home and on the road this season, their 17-16 home record is still fairly concerning. Here are the home records for each of the Eastern Conference Teams that would make the playoffs if the season ended today:
1. Indiana Pacers (32-4)
2. Miami Heat (28-6)
3. Chicago Bulls (23-13)
4. Toronto Raptors (21-14)
5. Brooklyn Nets (23-11)
6. Washington Wizards (17-16)
7. Charlotte Bobcats (20-16)
8. Atlanta Hawks, (20-13)
The Wizards have a habit of playing inconsistently at home, particularly when they play an opponent which isn't expected to do much this season. While they have some impressive home wins against the Heat, Thunder, and Blazers, they've lost twice to the Cavaliers, the 76ers (in their home opener), the Celtics, and the Bucks. Something that may work to their advantage in the playoffs: both the higher caliber of the teams they would face, as well as the the fact that they likely won't get a top-4 seed, the Wizards won't find themselves "playing down" to their competition.
To prove that they won't roll over at home during the playoffs, the Wizards need to improve their record as the season goes on--particularly during the three-game homestand that begins tonight against Phoenix and continues against Indiana on Friday and Atlanta on Saturday. The Pacers and Hawks are both playoff teams as of right now, and the Wizards need to be able to prove themselves against them. If they can pull off two wins out of three in this home stand (I think beating Indy would be a very tough task), that would definitely be a good thing.
Other Eastern Conference games on tonight
Here are other matches going on between Eastern Conference teams. Most of these games will be going on while the Wizards game is on tonight, but the results of these games can help clear the picture just a little more for tomorrow.
Brooklyn Nets at Charlotte Bobcats, 7 PM on NBA League Pass
This matchup is between the two teams right above and below the Wizards in the standings. Considering that the Wizards don't want to lose ground to the Nets, it's better to see the Bobcats win this game, even if the Wizards lose to the Suns. Though we know you will be tuning into the Wizards game, you still may be very tempted to check the box scores of this contest as well.
Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics, 7:30 PM on NBA League Pass
With a win, the Raptors will be back into the third seed for the East by virtue of tiebreakers as the Bulls are not playing tonight. The Raptors also play the Celtics back at home on Friday, so it's very important for them to win both games here.
Atlanta Hawks at Minnesota Timberwolves, 8 PM on NBA League Pass
The Hawks are pretty bad on the road with a 11-25 record so I expect the Wolves to have the upper hand to win this game.
Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers, 8 PM on ESPN
This game has implications on which team may end up being the number one seed in the East given that Indy is just two games ahead of the two time defending NBA Champs. These two teams will face off again in April 11 in Miami.
New York Knicks at Sacramento Kings, 10 PM on NBA League Pass
The Knicks have won eight of their last ten games (they actually just came off a 127-96 blowout loss to the Lakers), which was the first game in a five game West Coast road trip. I think they'll have the upper hand here against the Kings, and that will still keep pressure on the Hawks, who have struggled a lot since February.