Washington Wizards: The team no one wants to face in a play-in tournament

Washington Wizards Russell Westbrook (Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports)
Washington Wizards Russell Westbrook (Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Washington Wizards are rounding into form at just the right time. 

Just a few weeks ago, roughly three to be exact, the Washington Wizards appeared to be spiraling out of control and out of the playoff picture completely in the Eastern Conference. At the time, Washington was 17-32 and was sitting in the 13th spot in the East standings.

Washington was four games out of the 10 spot, the final team allowed into the playoff play-in tournament and the season appeared to be all but over. Although, that’s the moment when it all changed for the Wizards.

Since April 5, Washington has caught fire and has played better than arguably any team in the East not named the New York Knicks.

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Over their last 10 games, it’s as if the Wizards are an entirely different team. Washington is 9-1 over that span and is currently on a seven-game winning streak. The Wizards have surpassed the Chicago Bulls for the 10th seed in the East and are now just 1.5 games back of the Indiana Pacers for the 9th seed.

During that span, Washington also has the second-ranked defensive rating, which has been the big difference for this team.

Up until April 5, the Wizards had just the 25th ranked defensive rating in the league. It’s clear that has been the primary difference for this team and has helped catapult this team up the standings in the East.

The fact that the Wizards were able to make up four games in the matter of 10 games is insane, but it shows just how exactly things can change in the East playoff picture. And something to keep in mind heading into the final few weeks of the regular season.

With the way the team has played over the last three weeks, the Wizards are arguably the team that no lower-seeded playoff team in the East would want to see in a potential playoff play-in tournament. They’d be one of the hottest teams going in if they can continue to play at this pace over the next couple of weeks, and they’d arguably have the best player on the floor.

Bradley Beal is having another sensational season for the Wizards and is a player that has the ability to change a small sample size type environment in an instant. Even though the Wizards would be at a disadvantage heading in, I’m not sure this team could be counted out in a play-in tournament format.

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It’s amazing how just a few weeks ago the Wizards appeared to be dead in the water, floating at the bottom. Now, they are one of the hottest teams in the East and could be rounding into a team that you don’t want to see in a playoff play-in tournament.