Wizards in the Playoffs?! What Are the Odds?


With last night’s 118-92 thumping of the Boston Celtics, the Wizards clinched a playoff spot for the first since 2008. After a hearty “Woo hoo!” and a few moments of basking in the return to the best basketball tournament on the planet, I immediately started wondering — what are the Wizards chances of advancing?

The answer, of course, depends on the opponent. So, I broke out the odds estimator, and ran the numbers for the Eastern Conference teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today (April 3, 2014). I’ll update when the season ends.

1 MIA 19%
2 IND 21%
3 TOR 32%
4 CHI 42%
5 BRK 56%
7 CHA 66%
8 NYK 69%

The “odds” column shows what I estimate the likelihood that the Wizards will defeat that opponent in a seven-game series. So, Washington has a 19% chance of beating the Heat, 21% chance of toppling the Pacers, and so on down the list.

Their most likely first round opponent is either Toronto or Chicago. Between the two, the numbers suggest the Bulls are the more favorable match-up — the Wizards have a 42% chance of beating them in the first round, but only a 32% chance against the Raptors.

The Wizards do NOT want to slip to the seventh or eighth seed to face Miami or Indiana where their chances plummet.

What’s most likely to happen? Well, I ran my odds calculator on the remaining schedules for the Wizards, Raptors, Bulls, Nets and Hornets. Here’s a handy table showing their projected record in their remaining games, their projected final records, and their projected seeds:

  W L W L  
TOR 7 0 50 32 3
BRK 7 1 47 35 4
CHI 3 4 46 36 5
WAS 5 2 44 38 6
CHA 5 2 42 40 7

Chicago has the toughest remaining schedule, but everyone else gets a few games against Eastern Conference bottom feeders. Based on what’s left of the NBA season, it’s tough to see Washington climbing to fourth or fifth. They’d pretty much have to go 7-0 and hope Chicago and/or Brooklyn falter. And, the Wizards will need to close the season strong to avoid getting caught by Charlotte, which would mean a first round series against the Pacers.


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