Wizards 2021 Schedule: Top Games, Updated Championship Odds and PredictionsFebruary 24, 2021
Let's not sugarcoat it—the Washington Wizards have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA this season.
Washington came into the 2020-21 campaign with legitimate postseason aspirations after adding Russell Westbrook to pair with Bradley Beal in the backcourt and drafting Deni Avdija. Those players, combined with core pieces like Davis Bertans, Thomas Bryant and Rui Hachimura gave the Wizards an exciting roster heading into this season.
But nothing has gone to plan. Outside of Beal continuing to play at an extremely high level, the Wizards have been bad. Bryant was lost for the season with a torn ACL in early January, Westbrook is having one of the worst seasons of his career and the Wizards have arguably the worst defense in basketball. The team also took a six-game hiatus in January due to the NBA's health and safety protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A five-game winning streak in February offered some hope. But was it just a hot streak, or truly a sign that the Wizards have turned a corner? And if it was just the former and the Wizards regress again, is a Beal trade imminent?
Let's take a deeper dive on the remaining schedule they'll face as they attempt to answer those questions.
Second-Half Schedule Details
Second-Half Opener: at Memphis Grizzlies, Wednesday, March 10 at 8 p.m. ET
Championship Odds: +25000, per FanDuel (bet $100 to win $25,000)
Second-Half Schedule: NBA.com
Philadelphia 76ers (March 12)
Games between the Wizards and Sixers always seem to be chippy and close, with Philly winning the first two matchups between the teams this season by a combined 11 points. That included a 141-136 loss for the Wizards on Jan. 6, spoiling a 60-point outburst by Beal.
And no, that game did not go into overtime. The Wizards really did give up 141 points in regulation, one of seven times this season they've allowed an opponent to score 130 or more points against them.
Games between these divisional rivals are always must-watch affairs, even more so now given some of the past meetings between Westbrook and the Sixers. Granted, Washington has basically no one capable of slowing down Joel Embiid, but if the Wizards are going to claw back into playoff contention, they'll need to steal some wins against the top teams in the East.
New York Knicks (March 23, March 25)
There are some teams that have struggled early on that you would expect to play their way back into a high playoff seed (Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat). There are other teams that have struggled for various reasons that might stick (the Orlando Magic, for instance, have been hit hard by injuries).
Then there are those teams hovering around the 7-10 seeds in the East that could easily solidify a playoff position or just as easily fall out of the running. The Knicks fall into that camp, making them a team the Wizards likely will have to surpass if they are going to get into the postseason.
The Knicks have punched above their weight, largely because Julius Randle is playing like an All-Star, RJ Barrett has continued to progress and Immanuel Quickley has been one of the biggest surprises of the season.
Still, this is the type of team the Wizards have to be able to beat if they're going to save their season. And if nothing else, it will be the chance to see No. 8 overall pick Obi Toppin vs. No. 9 overall pick Avdija (even if No. 25 overall pick Quickley has been better than both of them).
At this point, it feels more likely the Wizards will make a big trade—cough cough, Beal, cough—than they'll claw themselves back into the postseason hunt. They just have too many shortcomings to overcome. Look around the East and it's far easier to make a case for other teams.
The Raptors and Heat will be in the playoff picture. The Charlotte Hornets have been seriously bolstered by the offseason additions of Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball. The Hawks may be young, but Trae Young and company are loaded with talent. Even the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic seem capable of better basketball than they've played.
The Wizards probably need to shake things up a bit, even if it's a smaller trade to address depth or other weaknesses. But this just doesn't feel like a playoff team. They have too many holes.
Record Prediction: Wizards finish 28-44
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