Wizards to face chal­lenges in Florida

Mak­ing play­offs won’t be easy with dif­fi­cult sched­ule

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - SPORTS - By The Wash­ing­ton Post

MON­DAY, JUNE 29, 2020

• • •

The steep climb for the Wash­ing­ton Wizards in the NBA play­offs came into sharper fo­cus Fri­day night when the league re­leased its sched­ule for the sea­son restart on July 30 in Florida.

The Wizards (24-40) will face five teams with win­ning records and get their first look at Zion Wil­liamson and the New Or­leans Pel­i­cans when the league re­sumes with an eightgame reg­u­lar sea­son. Most of Wash­ing­ton’s games will be in the af­ter­noon.

After kick­ing their slate off on July 31 against the Phoenix Suns, they’ll face the Brook­lyn Nets, In­di­ana Pac­ers, Philadel­phia 76ers, New Or­leans Pel­i­cans and

Ok­la­homa City Thun­der be­fore wrap­ping up in mid-Au­gust with their two tough­est op­po­nents in the Mil­wau­kee Bucks and the Bos­ton Celtics.

The Wizards have a com­bined 6-5 record against their fi­nal eight foes, with wins com­ing against Phoenix, Brook­lyn (twice), Philadel­phia, Ok­la­homa City and Bos­ton.

The eight-game reg­u­lar sea­son will serve as a warmup to al­low teams to reac­cli­mate to play and as a seed­ing round be­fore the NBA pro­ceeds to its usual 16-team post­sea­son for­mat. The ninth-seeded Wizards’ task is clear: The team must get within four games of the eighth seed to force a play-in tour­na­ment to qual­ify for the play­offs. In that tour­na­ment, Wash­ing­ton would have to beat the eighth seed twice to ad­vance. The eighth seed would only need to beat

SUNS VS. WIZARDS NBA restart in Or­lando, Fla.

July 31: 4 p.m.

the Wizards once.

The Wizards are 5½ games be­hind eighth­seeded Or­lando Magic (30-35).

For now, Wash­ing­ton is spend­ing the next month pre­par­ing for an ab­bre­vi­ated sea­son after nearly four months off. The team will con­tinue in­di­vid­ual player work­outs at their fa­cil­ity in the District of Columbia through July 6 be­fore head­ing to Or­lando on July 7, where the Wizards will com­plete a manda­tory quar­an­tine pe­riod be­fore start­ing a three­week train­ing camp.

Wash­ing­ton will also fo­cus on in­te­grat­ing a new player in that month­long prepa­ra­tion pe­riod. Point guard Je­rian Grant is set to sign a short-term con­tract with the team in place of for­ward Davis Ber­tans, the team’s best 3-point shooter, who elected to sit out the rest of the sea­son. Ber­tans will be a highly prized free agent at the end of the sea­son for whom any in­jury in Or­lando could be greatly con­se­quen­tial.

Across the NBA, the reg­u­lar sea­son will fea­ture be­tween four and seven games per night with at least three tele­vised na­tion­ally on TNT, ESPN or NBA TV. The league will restart with a TNT dou­ble­header pit­ting the Pel­i­cans and their rookie star Wil­liamson against the Utah Jazz and the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers against the Clip­pers.

The first round of play­offs will be­gin Aug. 17 at the ear­li­est.

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