On the Wizards, and the Home Court, and Ranking the Opponents
If any of the people who used to read this blog are still around, you'll recall that I used to do nothing but write about the Wizards. And, despite a few hiccups and hair-pulling fights early this year, things seemed pretty joyous in the land of Wiz. Well, no more. Now BTH is a benched malcontent, and Caron has a broken finger, and fans are calling for various heads to roll in various directions. Before my baby was born and I took a long blog break, the Wiz were 31-25 (.554). Since, they're 8-8, and drenched in chaos.
Anyhow, I've been promised by WaPo NBA editor Alexa I'll travel with our lads for the playoffs, which, at this point, might consist of two road games. There are four possible first-round opponents, unless something bizarre happens: Cleveland, Chicago, Miami, and Toronto. I've been trying to rank these locales in order of desirability, including at once travel amenities, blogging storylines, Wiz survival chances and basketball drama. Well, ok, mainly travel amenities. I've got it like this: Toronto, Chicago, Miami, Cleveland, Toronto pulling ahead on the strength of the Alecko Eskandarian blogging opportunities, the good kind of Smarties, and the chance to meet actual Canadian J.E. Skeets of The Basketball Jones.
Here's an obvious but key point: The Wizards are 26-10 at home, and could still finish with the East's best home record. The three other best home records in the East? Chicago, Cleveland and Toronto. Point: The Wiz want home court in the playoffs.
Here's another key point: The only way the Wiz are getting home court in the playoffs is if they make up the 1.5 games they're behind Toronto and claim the third seed. Even if they get the fourth seed, they'd almost certainly be on the road against fifth-seeded Cleveland or Chicago, because of an inferior regular season record. There's been some confusion on this point; the WashTimes's John Mitchell wrote today that "the Wizards don't want to slip out of that fourth seed and lose homecourt advantage," and last week, Ivan Carter wrote that "overtaking the Heat for the Southeast Division title would guarantee that the Wizards would be no lower than the fourth seed and would have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs." I believe both are mistaken. They're not the only ones a bit confused; check out this story on the Jazz from the Deseret Morning News:
The topic at hand: NBA playoffs, and just how first-round matchups are determined after the league tinkered with the format for this season.
Jazz coaches and broadcasters debating over dinner recently weren't quite sure of the details. Neither were a few Jazz players who were discussing the subject recently, so they went to the most-trusted source they knew.
"If you win your division you can (be seeded) no worse than fourth, I believe. But if you play someone with a better record, you won't get the homecourt advantage, is what I understand," veteran forward Jarron Collins said. "It actually came up the other day in the locker room ... and that was the understanding I was given, I think, from Adam Klauke -- the ballboy, the source of information of the team."
Point being, unless young Adam Klauke was mistaken, and I don't think he was, the Wiz might want to make up that 1.5 game deficit pretty quickly. Furthermore, since "Lunkhead Play of the Week" author Michael Ruffin chose precisely the wrong team to be lunkheaded against, the Wiz lose the tiebreaker against the Raptors, meaning they're essentially 2.5 games back with 10 to play. On the whole, the Wiz have a slightly more favorable end of season schedule than the 'Tors. The Raptors should go no worse than 5-4 down the stretch, though, which means the Wiz need to finish 8-2, which would require at least three wins out of at N.J., at Miami, vs. Cle, vs. Chi, at Ind. Which is about as likely as a Giant-Headed Teddy Roosevelt launching himself off the roof at RFK Stadium only to be DQ'd for "flying."
So the big point is, I need to think of another way to spend my travel allotment. In the meantime, if you could help rank Miami, Chicago, Cleveland and Toronto, as travel destinations and Wiz playoff opponents and blogging meccas, I'd appreciate it.
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