- The Washington Times - Friday, February 17, 2017

The year 1979 has come up a lot lately. Usually, the number is preceded by the phrase “Not since…” and reminds just how hot the Washington Wizards have been for more than two months.

A recount of the surge into the All-Star break: The Wizards have won 28 games since Dec. 1. They have lost 10. Of those 10 losses, one was moved to overtime by a one-in-a-million shot from the game’s best player. Three have been defeats by one possession.

Pile it up and the Wizards are 34-21 at the late break. They have won four consecutive games, and 14 of 16. They are third in the Eastern Conference standings, two games out of second and five games behind front-runner Cleveland.

The last time the Wizards won 50 games was 1979, when they won 54 a season after winning their lone NBA title. That was also the last time the Wizards (nee Bullets) finished first in their division. Elvin Hayes and Bob Dandridge carried that team.

To hit 50 wins this season, Washington needs to go 16-11 the rest of the year. It has eight days between games because of the All-Star break. Otto Porter can rest his hip. Bradley Beal can filter out his bitterness from not being selected to the All-Star Game. Though, Beal can also be pleased that he has made 51 starts already, 16 more than last season, with a chance to set a career-high in that category. John Wall can enjoy all-star weekend. The Wizards‘ brass can search for bench help.

Here’s how the schedule breaks down the remainder of the season:

  • Washington plays 17 road games, including two extended journeys to the West Coast. One is a five-game trip from March 7-13 that includes games against Phoenix, Denver, Sacramento, Portland and Minnesota. The other is a monster trip that starts at Cleveland, then includes games against the Lakers, Clippers, Jazz and Warriors. Washington is 10-14 on the road this season.
  • Of the 27, just 10 are against teams above .500.
  • The close of the regular season brings a light schedule. Washington finishes against Charlotte, New York, Miami twice and Detroit. Those teams have a combined winning percentage of 43.7.
  • Just six division games remain, meaning the Wizards‘ path to the Southeast Division title will largely be predicated on what they do against other opponents. They play the Atlanta Hawks, currently 2.5 games behind them, just once. That’s March 22 in Verizon Center.
  • Eight of Washington’s final 10 games are on the road.

That is the road to 50 wins. If the Wizards beat just the sub-.500 teams remaining on their schedule, that’s 17 wins and a 51-win season. Which will again bring up that year: 1979.

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