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Preview: Westbrook goes for triple-double record Monday night in Atlanta
The Wizards continue their five-game road trip on Monday night, taking on the Hawks at 7:30 P.M. in Atlanta. It is the first of two consecutive matchups between Washington and Atlanta as both teams jostle for playoff seeding in the final week of the regular season. The Wizards are looking to continue their climb up the Eastern Conference standings after a win over the Pacers on Saturday night while Russell Westbrook gets his first shot at sole possession of the all-time triple-double record.
State Farm Arena | 7:30 P.M. | NBCSW & NBATV | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Russell Westbrook, G – Raul Neto, G – Garrison Mathews, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Alex Len
Hawks: G – Trae Young, G – Bogdan Bogdanovic, F – Tony Snell, F – John Collins, C – Clint Capela
Wizards: Deni Avdija (right ankle fracture – out), Bradley Beal (left hamstring strain – out), Thomas Bryant (left ACL injury – out)
Hawks: De’Andre Hunter (right knee soreness – questionable), Cam Reddish (right Achilles soreness – out), Tony Snell (right Achilles soreness – questionable)
Westbrook gets first chance at triple-double #182
After a memorable performance leading the Wizards to a crucial overtime win over the Pacers on Saturday night, Westbrook is on the brink of breaking the NBA’s all-time triple-double record, which has been held by Oscar Robertson for nearly 50 years. Westbrook totaled 33 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists in Indiana, giving him 181 career triple-doubles in his career and 35 this season alone.
At this point, Westbrook surpassing Robertson is inevitable. He’s recorded triple-doubles in each of the last four games, three of which have been secured before the fourth quarter even began. He also just became the first player in league history to record back-to-back games with 15-plus rebounds and 15-plus assists. Most importantly, Westbrook’s triple-doubles are driving Wizards wins. The team is now 21-14 this season when Westbrook records a triple-double. In Saturday’s crucial win over the Pacers, with Bradley Beal sidelined with a hamstring injury, Westbrook scored or assisted on all nine of Washington’s overtime points and recorded the game-saving block as time expired in overtime.
“Russell is about team – and he’s always been that way,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said postgame. “He’s always been that way. I’ve got so much respect for Oscar Robertson…It’s really amazing that growing up, you saw that record, you just thought that it would never be touched…That’s Russell. He’s an incredible player and person.”
Beal out with hamstring injury
In a hard-fought win in the Wizards’ last outing, Beal fought through a pair of injuries for his second 50-point performance of the season. An ankle injury, sustained in the third quarter, only sidelined Beal for a few minutes, but a hamstring strain late in regulation kept him out of the decisive overtime period entirely. The Wizards announced on Sunday that Beal would not be available for the team’s next two games and would be re-evaluated on Friday.
Despite the early departure, Beal became the third player this season to record multiple games with at least 50 points, joining Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Boston’s Jayson Tatum. In his last four games, Beal is averaging 36.5 points on 54.5% from the field and 42.1% from 3-point range, tightening a race for the scoring title with Curry that will come down the final games of the season.
Scouting the Hawks
While the Wizards will be playing in their fourth outing of a five-game road trip and their fifth game in eight days, the Hawks will be well-rested. Atlanta’s last game was on May 6, giving them three days off before two consecutive games with Washington. Three days of rest would be rare in a normal season, let alone this season, when teams’ schedules are packed more densely than ever. Like the Wizards, the Hawks’ last game came against the Pacers. Atlanta lost in a 133-126 shootout, snapping a three-game winning streak that included a 32-point win over a Suns team with the second-best record in the league.
After a slow start to the season, Atlanta has been one of the hottest teams in the league for the last two months. Since March 2, they are 23-11 and have climbed into the top half of the Eastern Conference standings. The Hawks’ resurgence has been a group effort. Since March 2, Trae Young has averaged 24.1 points and 9.5 assists per game. Bogdan Bogdanovic is shooting 44.7% from 3-point range. Clint Capela is putting up 15.7 points and 14.5 rebounds per game. And Atlanta may be getting reinforcements. Monday’s game could possibly mark the return of De’Andre Hunter, who is averaging 16.0 points and 5.1 rebounds in 20 games this season, but has played just twice since injuring his knee against the Wizards on January 29.