Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards
WASHINGTON, DC -  MAY 3: Ish Smith #14 of the Washington Wizards smiles during the game against the Indiana Pacers on May 3, 2021 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.
Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Preview: Wizards look to clinch Play-In berth Friday vs. Cavaliers

The Wizards begin a two-game homestand to close the regular season, hosting the Cavaliers on Friday night at 7:00 P.M. at Capital One Arena. Washington is looking to snap a two-game losing streak and improve its place in the standings with the postseason looming. Cleveland is coming off an eight-point win over the Celtics that ended an 11-game losing streak.

Raul Neto (left hamstring tightness) will not play, the team announced pregame. Bradley Beal (left hamstring strain) will miss his third consecutive game.

GAME INFO

Capital One Arena | 7:00 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM

PROBABLE STARTERS

Wizards: G – Russell Westbrook, G – Chandler Hutchison, G – Davis Bertans, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Alex Len

Cavaliers: G – Collin Sexton, G – Isaac Okoro, F – Dean Wade, F – Kevin Love, C – Jarrett Allen

INJURY REPORT

Wizards: Deni Avdija (right ankle fracture – out), Bradley Beal (left hamstring strain – out), Thomas Bryant (left ACL injury – out), Raul Neto (left hamstring rightness – out)

Cavaliers: Matthew Dellavedova (neck strain – out), Darius Garland (left ankle sprain – questionable), Isaiah Hartenstein (concussion – out), Kevin Love (right calf strain injury management – out), Larry Nance Jr. (right thumb fracture – out), Cedi Osman (right ankle soreness – questionable), Taurean Prince (left ankle surgery – out), Lamar Stevens (concussion – out), Dylan Windler (left knee surgery – out)

STORYLINES

Beal out for third straight game

After playing their last two games without Beal, the Wizards will once again be without their All-Star guard on Friday night, the team announced. Beal sustained his left hamstring injury last weekend against Indiana. Since the injury occurred, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks has said the team would not put him back on the court without him being fully ready to play. Following Friday’s game, Beal will have one more regular season game left to re-join the team before postseason competition begins.

With Beal out of the lineup, Russell Westbrook shouldered the majority of the workload on the offensive end. In the two games against the Hawks, Westbrook averaged 31.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 18.0 assists per game, shooting 44.0% from the field and 43.8% from 3-point range.

Wizards look to clinch Play-In spot and improve seeding

With just two games left in the regular season, the Wizards can still finish anywhere between 8th and 11th in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls’ win over the Raptors on Thursday night kept their postseason hopes alive, though they would need wins over the Bucks and Nets this weekend and two losses by the Wizards to jump Washington for the 10-seed. Should the Wizards win either of their last two games – Friday against Cleveland or Sunday against Charlotte – they would clinch a spot in the NBA Play-In Tournament and eliminate the Bulls.

Washington trails both Charlotte and Indiana by just one game, setting up a three-day race to determine seeds 8-10 in the Play-In. The eight-seed would play at the seven-seed with the winner advancing to the Playoffs as the seven-seed. The loser of the game would not be eliminated, but face off with the winner of the game between the nine- and 10-seed for the final spot in the Playoffs.

The Wizards can get as high as the eight-seed if they finish the season 2-0, the Hornets finish 0-2 (including a loss to the Wizards on Sunday) and the Pacers finish 1-1 or 0-2.

Wizards look to complete season sweep of Cavs

Friday’s game will be the third and final matchup of the season between the Wizards and Cavaliers with all three coming since April 25. Washington won both previous games against Cleveland by an average of 19.0 points per game, including a 29-point win on the road in April 30. That night, 12 different Wizards players scored, but none more than 19 points. The bench added 56 points, led by double-digit performances from Daniel Gafford, Ish Smith and Anthony Gill. Kevin Love, who set season highs in points (30) and rebounds (14) in Cleveland’s Wednesday win over Boston, will not play on Friday due to management of his right calf strain. With Love out, the Wizards will key in on Collin Sexton, who totaled 28 points and eight assists in the win over the Celtics and is averaging 26.0 points and 6.8 assists over his last four games. Sexton’s backcourt partner, Darius Garland, is listed as questionable after missing the last seven games with a left ankle sprain.

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