CSN update: Wizards eliminated from playoffs
The Wizards have seven games to make up a 2.5-game deficit to the Philadelphia 76ers for the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference, but their ability to jump them could hinge on whether or not their playoff-bound opponents choose to rest their starters.
Six of the games are against playoff teams, starting with the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. Four of them are on the road where the Wizards are 7-30.
The Miami Heat, who the Wizards face April 10, already have rested starters LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers.
That doesn't change coach Randy Wittman's focus. The Wizards (28-47) were officially eliminated from playoff contention with a 88-78 loss at the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, but getting within one spot of a berth would be an accomplishment for a team that began the season 4-28 and only had its three best players on the floor together for 22 games.
“We’re not going to see that for a while with the way standings are,” Wittman said of teams other than Miami resting starters. “Chicago’s (going) for the four spot to stay out of the sixth spot.”
Before Thursday’s games, the No. 3 Pacers (48-27) are deadlocked with the No. 2 New York Knicks (47-26) in games back of the top-seeded Heat (58-16) at 10.5. The No. 6 Bulls (40-33) are two games from the No. 4 slot held by the Brooklyn Nets (42-31).
The Boston Celtics (39-36) are seventh and 2.5 games from moving up. They've been resting forward Kevin Garnett since March 22 because of an inflamed left ankle. The Wizards travel there to play Sunday.
“They've (all) got important games. Boston’s going to have Garnett coming back as he has been out. We've got them coming up,” Wittman said. “Right now, you’re not going to see the New Yorks and those guys (resting). They’re fighting for spots. It’s a pretty tight thing.
“I’m not anticipating that right now. The last week (of the season)? You don’t know.”
If the Wizards don't lose any ground, they have a chance to make up a chunk of it on April 12 when they play at Philadelphia.