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A closer look at the Wizards' eight-game schedule in Orlando
On Friday, the NBA announced scheduling details for all 22 teams participating in the league’s restart beginning in late July at Walt Disney World Resort. As announced already, each of the 22 teams will play eight “seeding games” to determine the 16 teams that will qualify for the NBA Playoffs. If multiple teams are within four games of the eighth seed after the seeding games, a double-elimination play-in series will determine the advancing teams. The playoffs will mirror their normal structure: 16 teams, eight from each conference and four rounds of seven-game series, concluding with the NBA Finals.
According to the league, all 88 of the seeding games were selected from the pool of 259 games left on the schedule prior to the suspension of the regular season. The initial set of matchups were balanced to ensure that if two teams had two or more matchups remaining against each other, at least one of those games would be played.
Below is a look at the Wizards’ eight-game schedule in full and an overview of what the team will face as it chases a playoff spot in Orlando.
|7/31||Phoenix Suns||4:00 P.M.||NBCSW|
|8/2||Brooklyn Nets||2:00 P.M.||NBCSW|
|8/3||Indiana Pacers||4:00 P.M.||NBCSW|
|8/5||Philadelphia 76ers||4:00 P.M.||NBA TV/NBCSW|
|8/7||New Orleans Pelicans||8:00 P.M.||NBCSW|
|8/9||Oklahoma City Thunder||12:30 P.M.||NBCSW|
|8/11||Milwaukee Bucks||9:00 P.M.||NBCSW|
“We are all looking forward to reuniting as a team and having the opportunity to represent our DC Family in Orlando as we resume the regular season,” said Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard. “As exciting as it will be to see our players competing on the court again, we are equally eager to be able to use this platform to continue the amazing and inspiring work that our players and organization have done in addressing issues of social injustice and providing relief during the pandemic.”
The Wizards’ eight games will be played over a span of just 13 days. While the stretch will undoubtedly put the team’s conditioning to the test, the usual discussion of rest and days off will be framed differently in Orlando where no travel will be necessary. Washington is set to play one back-to-back, taking on the Nets and Pacers on August 2 and 3, respectively, but will have one day off in between every other game.
The schedule, as expected, is challenging. The league’s resumption of the season features only the 22 best teams in the league this season and will serve as a sprint for the final playoff spots left up for grabs. The schedule, however, does provide some reason for optimism. The Wizards’ first six seeding games are all against teams currently ranked outside the top four of their respective conference – before closing with a difficult pair of games against the Bucks and Celtics. Starting strong will be paramount for Washington if they want to fight their way back into the playoffs.
The Wizards begin their seeding game schedule on Friday, July 31, taking on the Phoenix Suns at 4:00 PM in what will be the teams’ second meeting of the season. Washington won a high-scoring affair, 140-132, in their first matchup in November.
While the stakes will be high in each of the eight seeding games, none may be more important than the Wizards’ matchup with the Brooklyn Nets, scheduled for August 2 at 2:00 PM. The Wizards, Nets and Magic are the only Eastern Conference teams participating in Orlando that have not clinched a playoff spot. Only two of the three will qualify for the postseason. Currently 6.0 games back of the Nets and 5.5 games back of the Magic, the Wizards are well within reach of forcing a play-in series against either. Washington, having already played Orlando four times this season, will not face the Magic during the seeding games unless a play-in scenario is necessary. In a what will be a rarity during the seeding games, the Nets and Magic will face each other twice – July 31 and August 11 – in matchups with substantial implications for the Wizards’ playoff chances.
After a pair of challenging Eastern Conference games against the Pacers (August 3; 4:00 PM) and Sixers (August 5; 4:00 PM), the Wizards will take on the Pelicans and 2019 number-one overall draft pick Zion Williamson on Friday, August 7 at 8:00 PM. Washington and New Orleans have yet to meet this season. The Wizards’ matchup against the Pelicans will be their first night game of the seeding period after starting off with four consecutive day games. Of the seven games with set tip times, Washington will play five day games and just two night games.
Two days later, the Wizards face the Thunder almost nine and a half months since the teams met on October 25, Washington’s second game of the season. Oklahoma City has already clinched a playoff spot, but, like all Western Conference teams, will spend each of the eight games jockeying for position in a conference without much separation between seeds 2-7.
Washington closes the seeding period with the previously noted pair of games against two of the league’s best: Milwaukee and Boston. The Bucks currently hold the best record in the league at 53-12 and a 6.5-game lead over the Raptors in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards lost both prior matchups with the Bucks despite Bradley Beal averaging 51.0 points per game in their two meetings. Boston ranks third in the East at 43-21 and split its two games with Washington so far this season. The Wizards’ matchup with the Celtics is the only one on the team’s schedule without an announced tip time – as is the case with all 22 teams’ final game. Times for the final games of the seeding period will be announced at a later date.
The Wizards’ first seven games will be televised on NBCSW, with the broadcast information for their final game against Boston TBD. All games will be broadcast via radio on WFED 1500 AM. As of today, the Wizards will play one nationally televised seeding game when they take on the Sixers on August 5. The game will be broadcast on NBATV.
According to the league, all teams that could potentially participate in a Play-In Tournament in their respective conference will complete their seeding games on August 14 to allow for a day off before the start of the Play-In Tournament on August 16. The First Round Playoff series will begin on either August 17 or 18.