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NBA Playoff Standings: Wizards can finish anywhere from sixth to eighth depending on Wednesday’s action

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Dallas Mavericks v Washington Wizards Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Washington’s win over the Celtics on Tuesday sets up a wild finish to the regular season on Wednesday night. The Wizards, Heat, and Bucks are within a game of each other with one game left to play, so Washington could finish anywhere from sixth to eighth in the East standings depending on what happens on Wednesday.

To make things a tad more complicated, the Wizards’ game in Orlando, the Heat’s game at home against the Raptors, and the Bucks’ game in Philadelphia all start at 8 p.m. ET, so no one will have the advantage of knowing how the other teams performed before their game starts. It will be a delicate dance all the way to the final buzzer.

Let’s take a look at all the scenarios for the final night of the season and how they affect Washington’s final position.

If the Wizards lose: Wiz finish eighth, face Raptors in Round 1

This one’s pretty simple: The Wizards are stuck behind Milwaukee and Miami in the standings. A loss would seal their fate as the eighth seed. They would face the top-seeded Raptors in the first round and the winner of that series would face the winner of the Pacers’ series against either the 76ers or Cavaliers.

If the Wizards win, the Bucks win, and the Heat win: Wiz finish eighth, face the Raptors in Round 1

It’s the same dynamic as the first scenario. Washington needs to beat Orlando to have a hope of moving up, but they also need someone else to lose.

If the Wizards win, the Bucks win, and the Heat lose: Wiz finish seventh, face the Celtics in Round 1

In this scenario, Washington would win the Southeast Division title and the winner of the Wizards-Celtics series would face the winner of the Bucks’ series against either the 76ers or Cavs in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

If the Wizards win, the Heat win, and the Bucks lose: Wiz finish seventh, face the Celtics in Round 1

In this scenario, Miami would win the Southeast Division title, but Washington holds on to the seventh seed because they hold the tiebreaker over Milwaukee. The winner of the Wizards-Celtics series would face the winner of the 76ers-Heat series in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

If the Wizards win, the Heat lose, and the Bucks lose: Wiz finish sixth, face 76ers in Round 1

The Wizards make the jump here because they own the tiebreaker over the Bucks and finish one game ahead of the Heat to take the Southeast Division title. The winner of the Wizards’ series against the 76ers would face the winner of the Celtics-Bucks series in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Wait, so are you saying the Wizards can’t face the Cavaliers in the first round?

That’s correct! LeBron James will not have a chance to send the Wizards home in the first round this season. The Cavaliers can still move up to the third seed if they beat the Knicks and the 76ers lose on Wednesday. But if the 76ers lose, that means the Bucks won, which would prevent the Wizards from moving up to the sixth seed.


The important thing to keep in mind here is the 76ers can’t afford to rest their starters on Wednesday against the Bucks. It’s more advantageous for the 76ers to stay in the third spot and face the shorthanded Celtics or the seventh seed in the second round than it is to drop to fourth and likely face Toronto. That’s bad news for Milwaukee and good news for Washington, because it puts them in a good position to move up with a win.

The Wizards may not have the same luck with the Heat-Raptors game. The game is in Miami and the Raptors have already locked up the top seed, so Toronto will likely give their key players the night off, or play them limited minutes. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry both played under 30 minutes in their game on Monday in Detroit. The Raptors have enough depth to make things interesting, and they may have some motivation to get to the 60-win mark, but it would be a surprise if the Heat lose.