Could the Washington Wizards make a surprise run in the NBA Playoffs and is there any value out there to be had on any picks on Wizards Futures Bets? Let’s take a gander.
The Washington Wizards (41-33, 98.3 PF-97.8 PA) and Head Coach Randy Wittman have had a really nice season by franchise standards, and, after play on Sunday, sit in 5th place in the Eastern Conference Playoffs race, now 2½ games behind the 4th-place Toronto Raptors (43-30) after the Wizards fell at Home to the visiting Houston Rockets, 99-91 on Sunday. And should the NBA Playoffs (begin Saturday, April 18) start today, Washington would be playing the No. 4-seed Raptors. Next up for the Wizards (26-12 Home) is a date with the lowly Philadelphia 76ers (18-56) at home on Wednesday evening at the Verizon Center (NBA League Pass—Team 2, 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT). For this Wizards team, with just 8 games remaining on the Regular Season schedule—including that aforementioned mid-week date with the Sixers—the big thing should be in trying to somehow overcome the now 2½-game deficit to 4th-place Toronto so Washington could have the homecourt advantage for their probable First Round series. But Sunday’s loss to the Rockets was a big blow in trying to get to that end and none of those 8 games are a head-to-head matchups with Toronto—a team Washington is 0-3 SU (1-2 ATS) against so far this NBA Regular Season. So, even if the Wizards (50/1 to win NBA Championship, Betfred) do somehow rise up and snag that No. 4 spot in the next two weeks, then they may have earned the Homecourt Edge, but they will still be playing a team which it hasn’t even beaten this season. And that means a potential First Round Moneyline Series bet on the Raptors (over the Wizards) makes an awful lot of sense from this short distance as the likely favored Raptors shouldn’t be priced over -200 and may be closer to -150 or maybe as low as -140 depending on what happens down the final stretch. We’ll see soon enough.
Washington Wizards Possible Starting Five
C—Marcin Gortat (11.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.3 bpg)
PF—Nenê (11.2 ppg, 5.1. rpg)
SF—Paul Pierce (12.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
SG—Bradley Beal (14.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.2 apg)
PG—John Wall (17.6 ppg, 9.8 apg, 1.8 spg)
Washington Wizards Bench, Roster Depth
C—Kevin Seraphin (6.6 ppg)
PF—Kris Humphries (8.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg)—IL
SF—Otto Porter Jr. (5.5 ppg)
SG—Garrett Temple (3.9 ppg)—IL
PG—Ramon Sessions (6.7 ppg)
C—DeJuan Blair (1.8 ppg)—IL
PF—Drew Gooden (5.2 ppg)
SG—Glen Rice Jr. (2.1 ppg)
SG—Martell Webster (3.0 ppg)
Injuries, Coaching, Intangibles (Potential Playoff Paths)
Wizards’ backup PF Kris Humphries (groin, hamstring) was very impressive in the first half of Washington’s season filling in for the oft-injured Nenê, but Humphries himself went on the IL on Feb. 25 and is still listed as Day-to-Day. Backup SG Garrett Temple (hamstring) has been on the IL since March 9, while backup big man (C/PF) DeJuan Blair (personal) has been there since March 27 (Friday), so this team is definitely suffering some from injuries and will need to try to get all three players back, healthy and contributing if it is to have any chance of winning its First Round series in the NBA Playoffs. Head Coach Randy Wittman took over at a very low point for the Washington Wizards—in January of 2012 after then-Head Coach Flip Saunders was given the axe after a nasty 2-15 start—when the 55-year-old former University of Indiana player and member of the last undefeated NCAA Men’s Division I College Basketball team in 1975 took over on an interim basis. The team later decided to retain the talented Wittman as Head Coach and it really seems that this team has persistently improved over the past couple of seasons, although there do still seem to be Growing Problems at times with players having issues executing the plays Wittman draws up. And, frustrations blew through last week as the Wizards Head Coach exploded (figuratively) in the team’s locker room after a loss during in the throes of a 4-game losing streak, which almost sealed Washington’s fate to that current No. 5 spot and a series with Toronto.
As far as Potential Playoff Paths, as discussed ad nauseum, Washington (28-45-1 ATS, 16-22 ATS Home, 12-23-1 ATS) will likely be dancing with the Raptors in the First Round, with Toronto probably holding the homecourt advantage. And also as mentioned, Toronto was 3-0 against Washington this Regular Season (2-1 ATS). Should the Wizards (15-21 SU Away) get by the Raptors in this theoretical Round 1 meeting, they would then play the winner of the No. 1-seed/No. 8 seed-series, probably the Atlanta Hawks (55-18). Against the Hawks, the Wizards are 3-0 SU and 3-0 ATS this season with the final game coming this Saturday (April 2) night here at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC’s Chinatown neighborhood (NBA-TV, 6 p.m./3 p.m PT). And if the miraculous happens and Washington make it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, it would possibly get LeBron James and the No. 2-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers (48-27), a team that the Wizards are 1-2 SU against (1-2 ATS) so far this year with the two teams playing in their final game of the Regular Season in Cleveland on April 15. So, to date, the Wizards (19th in NBA in Points, 98.4 ppg) are an anemic 1-8 SU (2-7 ATS) against Possible Potential Playoff opponents so, in my mind, this team is a definite fade no matter what, especially when they play on the Road where Washington is just 12-23-1 ATS (34.2%).
With the injuries and that recent swoon and the Wittman blowup in the locker room, this team is just in a bad Headspace right now. Bad timing. Granted, Washington has assembled a very nice Starting 5 with PG and floor general John Wall, his backcourt mate SG Bradley Beal, veteran SF Paul Pierce, PF Nenê and C Marcin Gortat, but there appears to be a massive drop-off to the Bench with this team where the three players presently on the Injured List—Humphries, Temple and Blair—reside. And this Wizards (40/1 to win Eastern Conference, Boylesports) team will be relying too much on this starting unit and expect guards Wall and Beal will be stretched incredibly thin by the opposition. And as far as expectations and a valuable body of experience in the NBA Playoffs from which this team and Head Coach can draw, well, there just isn’t a lot. And The Wizards (26-19 vs. Eastern Conference) have a nasty Playoffs draw (probably) coming on the not-too-distant horizon with Canada’s only NBA team, those Raptors and DeMar DeRozan. The statistical reality revealed here against potential postseason opponents—1-8 SU and 2-7 ATS—speaks of a team that’s good against the Bad Teams but bad against the Good Teams, so, using that handicapping knowledge to bet against the Wizards (9th in NBA in Points allowed, 92.8 ppg) in those remaining two meetings against those Atlanta Hawks (April 2) and Cleveland Cavaliers (April 15) seems like a pretty smart thing, as does fading Washington in Games 1 and 2 (ATS) in Toronto that Round 1 series. This NBA Team Formerly Known As The Washington Bullets have improved much, but honestly still have a very long way to go to be a feared commodity in this league, earning our NBA Pick.
PREDICTED NBA PLAYOFFS DESTINY: Wizards Eliminated in Round 1 by Raptors
RELATED NBA PICKS: Raptors Moneyline at Bovada First Round Series Against Wizards; Bet Against Wizards ATS in Likely First Round Road (in Toronto) Games #1 and #2