The Washington Wizards and Golden State Warriors put on an entertaining performance for the first game at Capital One Arena with fans in 407 days since the NBA season was suspended due to COVID-19 in March 2020. Despite squandering a 19-point first-half lead, the Wizards fought back from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to sweep the Warriors on the season with a 118-114 victory. The win came at a high cost for Washington as Deni Avdija, unfortunately, suffered a hairline fracture in his right ankle that will cost him the rest of his rookie season, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Finally starting to gain some consistency during a chaotic rookie season, Deni Avdija helped Washington get out to an early lead with Steph Curry having an off night following a historic 11-game stretch averaging 40 points. Just before halftime, Avdija went up for a layup attempt and got both legs caught underneath him for an awkward landing with his feet making contact with Kent Bazemore and Andrew Wiggins. In visible pain on the floor, teammate Jordan Bell quickly took off his warmup shirt to cover Avdija’s lower right leg and tried to keep the 20-year old calm during the trying moments immediately after the injury. The rookie was eventually helped into a wheelchair and taken back to the locker room for x-rays and will undergo further testing on Thursday.
Deni Avdija strips Steph Curry and takes it all the way 👀
Rook already so good in transition pic.twitter.com/N1x5JQxxkN
— Hoop District (@Hoop_District) April 21, 2021
“I talked to him a little bit after the game, he was in good spirits. He was energetic, happy that we won,” Bradley Beal said about Avdija’s injury. “My advice is the same I would give myself when I was a rookie. Understand that your body is growing, there’s going to be some ups and downs. There’s going to be a lot of stuff that you can control, can’t control. … For the most part, knowing that you can come back on the other side of this a better player and even stronger with your body.”
“We don’t know if it’s over yet,” Scott Brooks said about Deni Avdija’s season although admittedly not having talked to the team’s medical staff to know for sure. “Two things about Deni that I love, he cares a lot and he works extremely hard and those are two characteristics that we want our program to be about and he’s about those things.”
Things looked bleak for Washington in the game itself with Jordan Poole looking like Steph Curry with six three-pointers off the bench including back-to-back shots from deep in the fourth quarter to give the Warriors an 11 point lead with seven minutes to play. Uncharacteristically of the Wizards team earlier in the season and in years past, they found a way to fight back and pull out a victory. After starting the game 2-for-14 from the field, Russell Westbrook had 8 points in the last four minutes on perfect 3-for-3 shooting by aggressively attacking the rim. Contagiously, Bradley Beal had a couple layups with Draymond Green fouling out with under three minutes to play and the All-Star shooting guard continued to find the open man in Davis Bertans for a three and layup when the Warriors blitzed him defensively. Washington has closed games better in the second half of the season and now at 25-33 find themselves in sole possession of the 10-seed in the Eastern Conference, good enough for the last spot in the play-in tournament.
Washington will now go on a one-game road trip to Oklahoma City where they will rematch with the Thunder who they just beat at home on Monday.
Get well soon Deni 🙏🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/0VG4yj7quk
— Sports Rabbi (@thesportsrabbi) April 22, 2021