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Daily Digits: November is a good predictor, whether we remember or not

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NBA: Washington Wizards at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Daily Digits is a new daily feature we’re doing at Bullets Forever this year where we take a look at stats about the Wizards. We’ll dive into the numbers, add some context, and discuss how they affect the product on the court.

Today’s stat is the number of teams who were in playoff spots at the end of November 2017 who went on to clinch playoff spots, which was...

14

The Wizards are doing their best to put the team’s slow start behind them. They’ve won three straight, and Dwight Howard, who missed most of the team’s early struggles, is leading the charge to let go of the past.

Thing is—as Ben Standig of NBC Washington noted on Thursday—there’s a very strong correlation between the teams who hold playoff spots after 20 games and the ones that end up with them at the end of the season.

The good news is the month is only half-over. Washington still has six games between now and the 20-game mark, and eight before the end of the month. They’re only 1.5 games out of eighth and they could have wins over the next three teams ahead of them if they can beat the Nets on Friday.

The bad news is they’re only favored to win three of their next eight games, based on FiveThirtyEight’s projections. That would put them at 8-14 at the end of November. The last time a team with a winning percentage that low at the end of November made the playoffs was 2016, when the 6-11 Wizards went on a 43-22 tear to finish the season and claim the fourth seed. Before that, you have to go back to the Celtics in 2014 who started the season 4-10 before they found their footing thanks to some mid-season trades that helped them sneak in as the eighth seed.

The Wizards still have plenty of time to recover from their slow start and get back in the playoff picture, but they can’t undersell the urgency they’ll need the rest of the season to make up for lost time.