The Washington Wizards will play the Atlanta Hawks at 7 p.m. ET tonight. They won’t just be playing to win a game. They are now just one game away from clinching a Top-10 seed in the Eastern Conference. In other words, they will qualify for the play-in tournament with a win tonight. Even if the Wizards lose, if the Chicago Bulls lose their next game which is against the Toronto Raptors tomorrow, Washington can still make the postseason.
So if Russell Westbrook works his way to another triple-double, Daniel Gafford keeps making game-saving blocks and refs make 50/50 calls more like 51/49 calls (okay, okay, I’m pushing it there!), Washington could seal the deal tonight!
At this point late in the regular season, teams at the top of the standings are sort of checked out as they wait for the first round. But with the addition of the play-in tournament, teams in the middle third of the conference are still playing to either earn a first-round berth outright or make the play-in, in Washington’s case.
In tonight’s case, Atlanta is currently fourth in the East, but it’s very complicated. The Hawks are in a three-way tie with the Miami Heat and New York Knicks with 38-31 records, are still fighting for the Southeast Division title. But they haven’t clinched a playoff berth yet though they have the tiebreaker against the Heat. Very odd.
In summary, both teams have EVERYTHING to play for tonight. The Hawks don’t want to find themselves in the play-in, and the Wizards don’t want to find themselves in a situation where they end up 11th and out of the play-in tournament. Hopefully, Brodie and the Wizards will get the job done tonight so we can start planning for the play-in coverage!