It's official: We've entered the final week of the regular season. But as the Wizards head to Brooklyn to take on the Nets, neither team is in a position where they can relax and take things easy. Both teams still have shots to move up in the playoff standings, and the Wizards in particular have a chance at making some franchise history this evening.
With a victory tonight, the Wizards would clinch the winningest regular season in franchise history since 1979, when the Bullets went 54-28. Sure, a 46 win season might not seem like a big deal to other franchises (the Lakers have had 25 seasons with more than 46 wins since 1979) but when you've watched this team you're whole life, it's a big deal.
Sure, this season has been mired by some rough losing streaks and questions about future job security of Randy Wittman and Ernie Grunfeld. But regardless of how you feel about the performance of Wittman & Grunfeld this season, a victory tonight is worth a proper celebration. Don't let context get in the way of celebrating the best regular season any Wizards under the age of 35 has ever witnessed.
Where and when: The Washington Wizards are facing the Brooklyn Nets tonight at 7:30 at the Barclays Center. You can catch the game on CSN Washington or join the #radioparty on 99.1 WNEW.
UPDATE: John Wall is sitting out again tonight:
Who's injured? Garrett Temple is still out with his hamstring injury. Nene is questionable (shoulder) after missing the past two games.
Sergey Karasev and Mirza Teletovic are out for the Nets. Alan Anderson is questionable after missing the past three games with an ankle sprain.
What's at stake? The Wizards need a win tonight to keep pace with the Bulls (who won in Miami Thursday night) and the Raptors (who are in Orlando this evening). A loss would put the Wizards two games back of the Bulls and possibly two behind the Raptors with three games to go, so Washington really can't afford to lose this one if they still want a shot at homecourt advantage in the first round.
The Nets have lots at stake as well. If they win and the Celtics lose in Cleveland, they can move up to the seventh seed. If they lose and the Pacers win in Detroit, the Nets will still be in eighth, but the Pacers will have the same reocrd. The Nets still have the tiebreaker on the Pacers, thanks to head-to-head record, but with two more games left against playoff teams in the East, the Nets would certainly prefer to hold on to that one game advantage if at all possible.
Key to tonight's game: Shut down Brook Lopez. The Wizards were crushed by the Nets in Washington 102-80, thanks in large part to 26 points from Brook Lopez, who was playing at less than 100 percent as he recovered from foot issues earlier in the season.
Now that he's fully healthy, he's really started to flex his muscles and has been a key part of the Nets' charge back into the playoff hunt. Since March 8th, when he returned to the starting lineup for good, the Nets are 11-7 and he's averaging 22.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and he's shooting 57.6 percent from the field. As long as they can keep Lopez in check and keep Jarrett Jack from going off, the Wizards have a good shot at getting win 46 in Brooklyn tonight.