Charlotte is 1-8 against the Southeastern Division this season. Lets just say that's not a good record to have against your own division. Now to be fair, the Hawks were at one point not an injured mess, the Wizards are a high seeded playoff team, and the Heat are just insane. However, they have a chance to fix up that record a bit with their remaining schedule.
All of that begins tonight with their match up against the Wizards. It's not often that regular season games have massive impact but this one does. The Bobcats are currently in the 7th seed of the East which has them matched up with the Miami Heat. If they want any chance at pulling off a first round upset, they'll need to get to the 6th seed and get a more favorable team. With the amount of games decreasing, wins are becoming more and more necessary.
Tonight's game is also a good benchmark for where the Bobcats are. Both teams are middle of the road Eastern Conference playoff teams and are going in the right direction. Both are battling for seeding. In regards to those goals, these teams are identical. Of course the Wizards have been the better team this season.
A large part of why they're a better team is they have a point guard with the potential to become the best guard in the NBA in John Wall. Wall has incredible quickness and speed, amazing vision that allows him to find his teammates perfectly, and his passing ability is really top notch. The jump shot is sometimes absent, and there are times he passes up open layups to make unnecessary passes but don't be mistaken. This guy can change a game all by himself.
A lot of what's keeping the Wizards down this season is injuries to key players. Before the season even started they lost Emeka Okafor to a neck injury, forcing them to trade for Suns center Marcin Gortat. While Gortat is a solid replacement, it's very difficult to replace a defender of Okafor's caliber. Wizards big man Nene is also injured at the moment. Nene is a solid scorer and also a good defender who especially makes the Wizards as a whole a better defensive squad. He was probably the second best player on the team and is largely missed. However, Bradley Beal is a more than capable complement to Wall as the Wizards' starting shooting guard.
The Bobcats have been hitting their stride lately and it will be interesting to see them take on a Wizards team that has been better than them all season. It should be a good test of how much they've improved over the season alone and maybe an indicator to how much noise they can make in the playoffs.