COLLEGE PARK, Maryland – The Washington Wizards schedule for the remainder of the season could present the toughest challenge for the team as they race for the second seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
The second seed is important, because it would give the Wizards home court advantage until the Eastern Conference finals and delay a matchup with the historically dominant Cleveland Cavaliers for two rounds.
Washington currently sits third in the east, only game and a half behind the second-place Boston Celtics. While both teams have a good shot at the second seed, the Celtics have a lucky charm: the remaining games on their schedule.
Washington has 16 games left. Ten of those games are on the road, where they are 15-16 on the season. Washington’s net rating (the team’s point differential per 100 possessions) drops from +5.4 at home to -1.2 on the road. Boston has 15 games remaining, including 10 at home, where they’re 23-9 so far this season.
That means Washington will spend a lot more time on planes over the next month.
Between now and the end of the season, the Celtics will travel just under 3,000 miles, according to a Capital News Service analysis of an obscure NBA stat, miles travelled by team.The average NBA team will travel nearly 9000 miles during that same time span, according to ESPN. This graphic of Boston’s flight paths shows that the team will not leave the East Coast before the playoffs.
Washington’s travel itinerary over the next month looks a bit more packed.
The team’s final month requires 10,000 miles in the air and includes a five-game road trip that includes the Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz and Golden State Warriors. While the team went 4-1 during their last road stretch of a similar length, shooting guard Bradley Beal noted just how exhausted the team was after they dropped their final game to Minnesota.
“I don’t make excuses but I’m not going to sit here and act like we’re not tired, we’re not a little bit exhausted. We are,” Beal told the Washington Post.
To make the race for the second seed even more difficult for Washington, Boston’s remaining opponents have won an average of 43 percent of their games. The Wizards’ final opponents have won an average of 50 percent of their games.
To stay in the hunt, Washington has to win down the stretch — and make sure they beat the Celtics on Monday. A loss would put the two teams at 2-2 for the season, with the tiebreaker going Boston’s way.