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Playoffs closer than ever as Hornets visit Wizards

The season is almost over, but the boys in teal are holding on.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

It kind of feels like the Hornets should’ve been the Wizards this year.

Washington, closing in the fourth seed in the East, is exactly where many Hornets fans (including myself) thought the team would finish this year.

Fourth, not ninth or tenth.

Washington started out slowly as the Hornets shot out of the gate. Yet with the improved play of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter — not to mention great in-season acquisitions like sharpshooter Bogdan Bogdanovic. The one seed was a very real possibility for the Wizards, before slipping as of late and allowing the Raptors to slip in front of them with less than ten games to go.

The Hornets are going in the opposite direction, having won three straight including a convincing performance at Oklahoma City just a couple days ago. The team seems to be focused, and instead of being resigned to their fate these past few weeks, they’ve instead decided to put on their game faces from last year and give it the old college try.

In any contest with the Washington Wizards, defending their backcourt is always any issue. Luckily, the Hornets do well in that category as both Nic Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are two of the more proven perimeter defenders in the league. However, both are a tough cover for Kemba Walker who may be forced into guarding one of them if Steve Clifford is too averse to putting Kemba on a much, much bigger — if less skilled — player.

It’s an important game for both teams. The Hornets are trying to climb themselves into the playoff picture as the Wizards attempt to stay at the top of it. Despite the disparity in their seedings, the talent levels are similar enough that the Hornets should be able to steal a victory en route to the eighth seed.