Strength of schedule should help Wizards make a playoff push

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Mike DePrisco
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Strength of schedule should help Wizards make a playoff push originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

It's been an up-and-down season for the Wizards, to say the least, but with 19 games left in the regular season they're still in the running for a spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament. 

Washington is currently 12th in the East at 20-33, just two games behind the Bulls for the final spot in the play-in tournament while also competing with the 11th seeded Raptors, who are 21-33 on the year. There's still plenty of work to do, but the Wizards have at least one thing working in their favor besides health: strength of schedule. 

According to Tankathon, the Wizards have the third-easiest remaining schedule in the NBA, which simply means the combined winning percentage of their final 19 opponents ranks 28th in the league.

An easier schedule down the stretch was still the case at the trade deadline. In fact, the Wizards' road has only gotten easier, as they had the fifth-hardest schedule in late March and now the third-easiest with less than 20 games to go. 

What's helping Washington even more is that their direct competition for the final play-in slot, the Bulls, Raptors and Pacers, won't benefit from playing against as many inferior opponents. 

The Raptors have the fifth-hardest remaining schedule, the Bulls have the ninth-hardest and the Pacers have the 20th-ranked difficulty down the stretch. Not to mention the eighth-seeded Knicks have the sixth-hardest schedule as well. 

The Wizards have struggled with health all season long, but it appears they're getting their entire team back at just the right time. With three matchups with the Cavaliers, two with the Thunder and another with Detroit over their final 19 games, Washington has a real window to make a move up the standings. 

However, they'll need to improve their performance against the kind of teams they're scheduled to face coming up. The Wizards are 12-19 against teams above .500 and 8-14 against teams with losing records. 

Washington isn't scheduled to play a team above .500 until April 26, so if they want a shot at the playoffs, they'll have to take care of business against bad teams.