Breaking Down Potential First Round Playoff Match-ups

Posted on March 26, 2014 by Cory Grubbs

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With just three weeks and only 12 games remaining in the 2013-14 NBA regular season, the glorious NBA Playoffs will be here before you know it. It's been five long seasons since Gilbert and Company had Washington playing meaningful games in April, but in a few short weeks this Wizards team that has been completely rebuilt since it's last postseason trip will be entering the NBA's "big dance". 

Led by their All-Star John Wall, Washington is in a dog fight for playoff position. The Wiz could end up being the 3rd seed in the East, or possibly even fall to the 8th seed. Soon enough we'll know who awaits Washington in the first round, but now it's time to dig into all of the East's playoff contenders and see how they match up with the Wiz. 

INDIANA PACERS (Current 1st seed)

Roster's total playoff experience in games - 417

Last year's playoff results - Lost to Heat in Conference Finals

Heading into December the Indiana Pacers were sitting atop the league standings with a 15-1 record and looked like the hands-on favorite to dethrone the Miami Heat. Fast forward to today and the Pacers are struggling a bit having lost seven of their last twelve games. Some media outlets have began to pick apart these Pacers, but they still are the league leader in points allowed per game and are a team I would hate to see the Wizards match up with in the first round. Indiana is hungry to get the taste of losing to the Heat in the Conference Finals last year out of their mouths, but luckily for Washington, barring a total collapse, a Wiz-Pacers match-up shouldn't happen until the later rounds of the playoffs. 

Chance of first round match-up - 2% 

MIAMI HEAT (Current 2nd seed)

Roster's total playoff experience in games - 1069

Last year's playoff results - Won championship  

What are three qualities that a team can possess that you would absolutely NOT want to see in a first round match-up? Defending champions? Check. Best player in the world? Check. Most playoff experience in the East? Check. Yes the Heat have also lost seven of their last twelve games but because of all the above qualities, they would be a nightmare of a first round opponent. If many more losses pile up, this Wiz nightmare could become a reality.  

Chance of first round match-up - 20%

CHICAGO BULLS (Current 3rd seed)

Roster's total playoff experience in games - 358 (excludes Derrick Rose)

Last year's playoff results - Lost to Heat in second round

Even without their best player and former league MVP, the Chicago Bulls are not a team to be taken lightly. Just ask the Pacers, who on Monday night got pummeled by the Bulls, 89-77. Chicago is one of the best coached teams in the league and hold opponents to a mere 91.9 PPG, which is good for second in the association. This team has also turned it on coming down the home stretch as they have tallied wins against the Pacers, Heat, and Rockets in the month of March. The Bulls are becoming that team. You know that team that "nobody wants to see in the first round". Unfortunately for the Wiz, if the post season started today, this is who they would be matched up with. And with only two of their remaining eleven games against teams with winning records, the Bulls might easily end the season as the 3rd seed. 

**Interesting side note - Mike Dunleavy has only played in 9 playoff games (33 years old)

Chance of first round match-up - 25%

TORONTO RAPTORS (Current 3rd seed)

Roster's total playoff experience in games - 156

Last year's playoff results - Did not make playoffs

Toronto heads into the Playoffs with the least amount of playoff experience of all the Eastern Conference teams. Heck, their leader in playoff familiarity is a guy that goes by the name of Psycho-T and he only averages 15.8 minutes a game. Although the Raps won the regular season series with the Wizards 3-1, this is the team that fans should want to see in the first round. Eight of the Raptors remaining twelve games are against teams with losing records, so a scenario where Toronto climbs back to the 3rd seed and Washington staying put as the 6th seed is not out of reach. 

Chance of first round match-up - 25%

BROOKLYN NETS (Current 5th seed)

Roster's total playoff experience in games - 570

Last year's playoff results - Lost to Bulls in first round

Talk about a team that has done a complete 180 after the calendar flipped to 2014. Entering the new year Brooklyn had a record of 10-21 and looked like the leagues highest payroll team would miss the playoffs. Now they are one of the hottest teams in the league as they have gone 27-11 in 2014. They've won 10 of 12 games in March and are becoming a well oiled veteran machine heading into the playoffs. With 570 games of post-season experience and the definition of momentum behind them, they could be overtaking the Bulls as everyone's first round nightmare. Of their 13 remaining games, only two are against teams with winning records which is why the Nets, Raptors, and Bulls all have an equal shot at facing the Wizards in the first round. They are all streaking, have easy remaining schedules, and all could very easily end the season with the 3rd seed. 

**Side note - KG and Paul Pierce have a combined 267 playoff games under their belts**

Chance of first round match-up - 25%

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS (Current 7th seed)

Roster's total playoff experience - 180

Last year's playoff results - Did not make playoffs

The Charlotte Bobcats are headed to the post season for only the second time in franchise history and would be a dream match-up for Wizards fans. Unfortunately the likelihood of the Cats and the Wiz matching up in round one are very slim. Washington would need to climb to the 3rd or 4th seed while Charlotte would need to climb to the 5th or 6th seed. As mentioned above, other teams are streaking and it would be a real reach to see these two battling to win a playoff series in the opening round. Stranger things have happened I guess, but don't bet on this one. 

Chance of first round match-up - 3%

ATLANTA HAWKS (Current 8th seed)

Roster's total playoff experience - 264

Last year's playoff results - Lost to Pacers in first round

The only reason we have the Hawks listed in here is because they are in the playoffs at the moment. It's impossible for Washington to snag the 1st seed and it would have to be a real wild ending to the season to see Atlanta move up in the standings. Heck they might even be replaced as the 8th seed by the New York Knicks. As much as everyone would like to see a Wiz-Hawks first round series, this one is in no way happening.  

Chance of first round match-up - 0%

As it stands today, March 26th, Washington sits as the 6th seed. As a collective roster they have a combined 287 games of playoff experience which is good for 5th most in the East. Even though they have some more playoff games under their belts than some others, none of those 287 games were played as a member of the Washington Wizards. But don' let that fool you. Three of Washington's starters (Ariza, Nene, Gortat) have played in a combined 131 playoff games.

Hang on to your hats Wizards fans because the end of the season could be a very unpredictable one. Hopefully it's the Wizards who are surprising fans and shooting up the standings.

Vote in the poll below and let us know who you would like to see Washington matching up with in the first round!  

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