When the Washington Wizards were 17-32 (.347) in early April and on a four-game losing streak, it seemed more likely that they would be headed for the draft lottery than post-season contention. Six weeks later and Washington finished the final third of their regular-season schedule a whopping 17-6 (.739). In the final regular-season game, the Wizards had a chance to clinch the 8-seed in the upcoming play-in games and they did just that by coming back from a 16-point deficit to beat the Hornets, 115-110.
Bradley Beal suffered an unfortunate and ill-timed left hamstring strain a week ago in Indiana that kept him out for three games including two close losses in Atlanta. The NBA’s second-leading scorer for the second season in a row toughed it out on Sunday, admittedly not 100 percent, and helped will Washington back. Following an abysmal 12 points on 4-for-17 shooting through three quarters, Beal exploded for 13 points in the fourth quarter, a frame the Wizards won 36-20. Russell Westbrook also contributed 8 points on 1-for-2 shooting both from deep (5-for-6 on free throws), 3 rebounds, and 3 assists in the deciding quarter after a poor start.
Bradley Beal drops Terry Rozier in transition 😳 pic.twitter.com/CyjkF1OlpO
— Hoop District (@Hoop_District) May 16, 2021
Regardless of what the Wizards are or more likely are not able to accomplish in the post-season, their fight throughout a chaotic season is more than admirable. A six-player COVID-19 outbreak, Russell Westbrook’s extended quad injury starting in training camp, Thomas Bryant’s season-ending ACL injury, and much more could have been used as excuses for why their season ended on May 16 with Game 72 of the condensed season. But that would not be the Westbrook way as the future Hall of Famer said he never doubted that Washington could turn things around once healthy. In the last 20 games that Beal has played in, the Wizards are 17-3.
Washington will play at the Boston Celtics on Tuesday at 9 p.m. EDT with the winner earning the 7-seed in the playoffs and taking on the loaded Brooklyn Nets. If the Wizards lose, they will host the winner of Indiana and Charlotte on Thursday with the winner earning the 8-seed in the playoffs and taking on the Philadelphia 76ers.