Can Wizards take advantage of easy remaining schedule?

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Wizards have easiest remaining schedule in NBA originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

As much as Bill Parcells may disagree, win-loss records in sports sometimes warrant some important context. For the 17-22 Wizards this season, some may point to their injuries, as Bradley Beal in particular has missed 15 of the team's 39 games and left several others.

The Wizards' injury plight depends on which metric you look at. They rank fairly average in terms of man games lost and total salary from players lost. But they also place highly in VORP (value over replacement player) lost due to injuries.

Basically, they haven't had a lot of missed games in total, but the injuries have been to key players. Beal accounts for a good deal of that since Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma have both been available for nearly every game.

There may be another obstacle the Wizards have faced that is more impactful, however. That would be their strength of schedule. So far, based on opponent win percentage, the Wizards have had the third-most difficult schedule (.515) in the NBA. Only the Bulls and Raptors have had a tougher road to this point, according to ESPN's RPI rankings.

Hardest schedule so far:

1. Bulls - .517

2. Raptors - .516

3. Wizards - .515

4. Pistons - .511

5. Jazz - .509

Interestingly enough, the Bulls and Raptors have basically had identical seasons to the Wizards thus far. The Wizards (17-22) are 10th in the East, currently holding the final play-in spot. Chicago (17-21) is ninth and Toronto (16-22) is 11th.

The flip side of the Wizards' playing such a challenging schedule in the first half of the season is that things are set to lighten up in the second half. In fact, they have the easiest remaining schedule (.484) according to Tankathon.

Easiest remaining schedule:

1. Wizards - .484

2. Raptors - .485

3. Kings - .487

4. Bulls - .487

5. Pistons - .489

The Raptors have the second-easiest and the Bulls are tied for the third-easiest. Given those three teams are bunched together in the standings, that could be a relevant factor moving forward.

The Wizards, for one, have played to their schedule. They are 10-16 against opponents with records at .500 or above. Meanwhile, they are 7-6 against sub-.500 teams. In the East, only the Raptors have played fewer games against teams with losing records than the Wizards have (12 to 13).

For the most part, Washington has taken care of the teams they are supposed to beat. That may matter more than you think. Look at the Brooklyn Nets, who are 10-10 against teams at .500 or above, but have feasted on sub-.500 opponents, going 15-3 in those games. That's a big part of why they have the third-best record in the East at 25-13.

The Knicks may be a better example. They are 21-18 and in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. New York is 7-13 against teams .500 or above and 14-5 against losing teams. With six more games against sub-500 teams than the Wizards, the Knicks have taken advantage of their schedule.

Now, some of it involves timing. Injuries to key players on opposing teams can skew matchups when they occur, and so can rest and location. The Wizards have played 22 of their 39 games on the road this year, only the Pistons have played more. Only the Blazers (15) have played fewer than the Wizards' 17 games at home.

Washington this year is 10-7 at home compared to 10-15 in away games. So, that makes a difference, too.

The biggest reasons why the Wizards are 17-22 through 39 games this season, of course, relate to their performance on the court. If they were more consistent in defending and shooting threes, their record would be better.

But their schedule has arguably played a role in their results and could offer an opportunity to capitalize moving forward.