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NBA Playoff Picture: The Wizards will likely start the playoffs on the road thanks to recent losses

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NBA: Washington Wizards at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Wizards’ three-game losing streaks likely means it’s not a question of if, but where, they’ll start the playoff on the road next month.

Washington is now 2.5 games behind the 76ers and Pacers, who are tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, with only nine games left to play. Meanwhile, the Wizards are only one game up on the Bucks and 1.5 games up on the Heat.

Here’s how FiveThirtyEight projects the final standings will shake out:

3. Cavaliers: 49-33
4. 76ers: 49-33 (The Cavaliers have a 2-1 lead in their head-to-head series with one game left to play. Even if they lose the last game to Philly as projected, they’d still have the tiebreaker by virtue of winning their division.
5. Pacers: 46-36
6. Wizards: 45-37
7. Heat: 44-38
8. Bucks: 43-39

If Cleveland and Philadelphia’s projections play out to form, Washington would have to win out just to force a three-way tie. That probably won’t happen, but there’s still a chance they catch Indiana for the fifth seed if they do well, or slip all the way back to eighth if they crumble. Here’s what’s left on the schedule, along with FiveThirtyEight’s current projections for each game:

  • vs. Spurs - 55 percent chance of winning
  • at Pistons - 56 percent chance of winning
  • vs. Hornets - 68 percent chance of winning
  • at Bulls - 58 percent chance of winning
  • at Rockets - 10 percent chance of winning
  • at Cavaliers - 32 percent chance of winning
  • vs. Hawks - 81 percent chance of winning
  • vs. Celtics - 53 percent chance of winning
  • at Magic - 54 percent chance of winning

There are two games the Wizards project to have a good chance of winning (Hornets and Hawks), two they’ll probably lose (on the road against the Rockets and Cavaliers), and five where the Wizards have a slight edge, but are essentially coin-flips. The games against the Celtics and Magic will probably be more winnable than the projections show because Boston will likely be locked in as the second seed and the Magic will have nothing to play for in the final game of the season other than ping pong balls.

Of course, depending on how things shake out over the final stretch, the Wizards themselves may be locked into their playoff slot by that time. Either way, it looks like they should have their luggage ready to start the first round on the road.