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Wizards Playoff Math Explained

So I was attempting to instigate a full-on discussion of all possible playoff permutations in the press room last night, but the other scribes weren't having it. Too early, they said. "This makes my head hurt," one said. Well, clearly these people do not have infant children, because nothing, and I mean nothing, says "I love this game" like sitting up with a crying child at 4:30 in the morning and attempting to figure out all the possible playoff permutations. Eastern Conference, ones, anyhow.

In about five percent of remaining scenarios, the Wizards and their bloggers head back to lovely Cleveland.

There are three teams whose seeds are locked in: Detroit at No. 1, Toronto at No. 3 and Miami at No. 4 (but without the home court in round one). There are seven games left that could matter. That means there are 128 possible outcomes. Lemme break that down.

(Oh, and if you're wondering how closely the players are following this race, some (Calvin Booth, Michael Ruffin) could tell you exactly how many games the Wizards are ahead of the Nets, and exactly what needs to happen for Washington to clinch the six seed, some (Michael Sweetney) need teammates (Chris Duhon) to hold up fingers behind a questioner's head in order to identify Washington's current seed, some (Tyrus Thomas) think the Wizards are currently seeded seventh or eighth, and some (DeShawn Stevenson) claim they have no idea whom the Wizards would face if the season ended today, because "I don't look at stuff like that.")

Anyhow, the breakdown. Feel free to double check my math. Of the 128 permutations:

In 72 cases, it will be Detroit-Orlando, Chicago-NJ, Toronto-Wash and Miami-Cleveland.

In 22 cases it will be Detroit-Orlando, Chicago-Wash, Toronto-NJ and Miami-Cleveland.

In 10 cases it will be Detroit-Wash, Chicago-Orlando, Toronto-NJ and Miami-Cleveland.

In 8 cases it will be Detroit-Orlando, Cleveland-NJ, Toronto-Wash and Miami-Chicago.

In 6 cases it will be Detroit-Orlando, Cleveland-Wash, Toronto-NJ and Miami-Chicago.

In 4 cases it will be Detroit-NJ, Chicago-Orlando, Toronto-Wash and Miami-Cleveland.

In 4 cases it will be Detroit-NJ, Chicago-Wash, Toronto-Orlando and Miami-Cleveland.

In 2 cases it will be Detroit-Wash, Cleveland-Orlando, Toronto-NJ and Miami-Chicago.

So, in terms of Washington's first-round opponent, 66 percent of the time it will be Toronto, 26 percent of the time it will be Chicago, 12 percent of the time it will be Detroit, and five percent of the time it will be Cleveland.

Of course, this assumes that each game is basically a coin flip. And also, that the Wizards actually have a chance of winning another game.

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 16, 2007; 9:07 AM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Next: Notes From a Ravaged Season


I hate to say this, but its true, the only math the wizards have to understand is this - if you lose 4 games, you are OUT.

Posted by: Still Mourning | April 16, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Did the GW kid do the math?

Posted by: sitruc | April 16, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

The Wizards should pick me up!

Posted by: Monty--AKA Cadillac | April 16, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

It's probably not a secret that these Wizards would have a better chance of advancing against Toronto than any of the other upper-half playoff teams...

...but that's like saying that a man has a better chance of coming out victorious in a 5-on-1 fistfight than in a 10-on-1 fistfight. You know he's going to lose, but it's just that his chances are better.

Posted by: I-66 | April 16, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Looly Wise does better math than this-ha!

Posted by: WGDC- | April 16, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

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