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We’re nearing the midway point of the seeding games in the NBA’s bubble on Walt Disney World property.
After a hiatus of more than four months due to COVID-19, the NBA resumed the 2019-20 season last week in what we’re calling a “bubble”. 22 of the league’s 30 teams were invited to Central Florida. After nearly a week’s worth of games, it may be time to send one home.
The Washington Wizards were on the outside looking in when they received the invite from the NBA. Washington entered the bubble 5.5 games back of the Orlando Magic for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Under the amended rules, Washington will have the chance to force a one-game playoff if it is able to draw to within four games of the No. 8 seed in the East.
With five games left, it is becoming more clear that isn’t going to happen. To the Wizards’ credit, they have been relatively competitive in the bubble. But following Tuesday’s action, the Wizards sit 7.5 games behind the Orlando Magic for the No. 8 seed. They’re eight games back of the seventh-seeded Brooklyn Nets.
Should Washington run the table and win its final five games — highly unlikely give its makeshift roster — it would need Brooklyn or Orlando to go 1-4 to draw within four games. The Wizards do not have a game remaining against either or those teams. Brooklyn and Orlando also meet once more, so one of those two clubs is guaranteed one more win.
Not only are the Wizards unlikely to force a one-game playoff, they’re not likely to make much of a difference in the playoff race at large. The one exception may be Friday’s contest against the New Orleans Pelicans. New Orleans is currently a game back of the Portland Trail Blazers for the ninth-best spot in the Western Conference and a shot at a one-game playoff.
Contests against Philadelphia on Wednesday and Oklahoma City on Sunday could have some bearing on seeding. With all teams playing games in Central Florida however, there is no advantage to being the higher seed aside from match-ups.
The final two contests for Washington will come against the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee has virtually wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the East while Boston is more than likely to capture the No. 3 seed.
Give head coach Scott Brooks credit for getting his team to play hard in the bubble, but the ship has largely sailed on Washington’s postseason hopes. Should the Wizards continue to play, they may actually finish with a worse record than the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls — two teams who weren’t even invited to the bubble.
Without John Wall and this season’s top two scorers, Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans, it’s time to pack it in.