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NBA Playoff Standings: Wizards' loss to Timberwolves does serious damage to playoff hopes

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Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that losing a game at home to the lottery-bound Timberwolves didn't help the Wizards' chances of making the playoffs. It also doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Pistons beating the Hornets on Friday night didn't make things easier.

However, it's nice to have a mathematician or two to provide some context for how hard it will be for the Wizards to catch the Pistons, who now have a 3.5 game lead over Washington for the final playoff spot. Thankfully, FiveThirtyEight, ESPN BPI, and Basketball-Reference are here to provide the odds, and ... they're not great:

To put things in a different context, if the Wizards go 8-2 to close the season, winning every game except their meetings with the Warriors and Clippers, they would finish 43-39. In that scenario, the Pistons would have to go 5-3 against their remaining schedule (remember, we're assuming the Wizards beat the Pistons on April 8 in this scenario) to ensure they lock up the playoff spot.

Here's who is left on the Pistons' schedule: vs. ATL, vs. OKC, vs. DAL, at CHI, at MIA, at ORL, vs. WAS, vs. MIA, at CLE. If you assume they'll beat the Magic and the Cavaliers, who will probably be resting their starters, there are two wins right there. Beating Atlanta at home won't be easy, but it's doable. They can probably take at least one of their two games against the Heat, who they've already beaten twice this season, and they've also beaten Dallas on their home court this season, so there's no reason why they couldn't beat them again at home. Just like that, the Pistons have their five wins to ward off the best-case finish for the Wizards, and we didn't even have to mention the Pistons' winnable road game in Chicago.

Certainly, you could poke some holes in that logic. Detroit's games against the Hawks, Thunder, Mavericks, Bulls, Heat, and Wizards are all loseable, but it's hard to envision a scenario where they lose all of them, or at least enough to where Washington doesn't have to be nearly perfect and root for the Pistons and Bulls to collapse in order to get back into the playoff chase.