Charlotte Hornets v Washington Wizards
WASHINGTON, DC -  MARCH 30: Russell Westbrook #4 of the Washington Wizards handles the ball during the game against the Charlotte Hornets on March 30, 2021 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Preview: Wizards and Hornets meet Sunday with Play-In seeding on the line

The Wizards close out the 2020-21 regular season on Sunday, hosting the Hornets at 1:00 P.M. in a game that will determine the highly coveted eight-seed in the NBA Play-In Tournament. Washington is coming off a win over Cleveland on Friday and has won three consecutive games at Capital One Arena.

The Wizards announced pregame that Bradley Beal, who was a game-time decision after missing three games with a left hamstring strain, would make his return to action. The news is a significant boost for the Wizards, who went 1-2 in Beal’s three-game absence. Raul Neto, who was also a game-time decision with a left hamstring strain, will not play.

GAME INFO

Capital One Arena | 1:00 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM

PROBABLE STARTERS

Wizards: G – Russell Westbrook, G – Bradley Beal, G – Davis Bertans, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Alex Len

Hornets: G – Terry Rozier, G – LaMelo Ball, F – Jalen McDaniels, F – P.J. Washington, C – Cody Zeller

INJURY REPORT

Wizards: Deni Avdija (right ankle fracture – out), Bradley Beal (left hamstring strain – game-time decision), Thomas Bryant (left ACL injury – out), Garrison Mathews (right wrist sprain – available), Raul Neto (left hamstring strain – out)

Hornets: TBA

STORYLINES

Play-In seeding comes down to the final day

After the Wizards’ win over the Cavaliers on Friday and losses by the Hornets and Pacers on Saturday, Washington, Charlotte and Indiana all hold the same record heading into the final day of the regular season. All three have already clinched their spots in the NBA Play-In Tournament, but have lots left to play for to determine seeding. Whichever team finishes eighth will have a decided advantage over seeds nine and 10. Under the new Play-In format, seeds 7-8 play with the winner advancing to the Playoffs as the seven-seed. Seeds 9-10 play with the loser eliminated and the winner advancing to play the loser of the 7-8 game. The winner of that game will advance as the eight-seed in the Playoffs. Everything you need to know about the NBA Play-In Tournament can be found HERE.

Washington can still finish anywhere between 8-10 depending on the results of Sunday’s games. While the Wizards and Hornets meet in D.C., the Pacers will be playing the Raptors in Tampa. The eight-seed scenario is simple: the winner of Sunday’s game between Washington and Charlotte takes it. If the Wizards win on Sunday, they’ll play the Celtics on Tuesday in the 7-8 game. If the Wizards lose on Sunday, the Hornets will take the eight-seed and the Wizards will face the Pacers in the 9-10 game, with seeding dependent on Indiana’s Sunday result against the Raptors.

Short rest for Charlotte

While Washington is hoping for good news when it comes to health and availability, it will have an advantage against Charlotte when it comes to rest. For the Hornets, Sunday’s matchup against the Wizards will be their second game in as many days. Charlotte is coming off an overtime loss to the Knicks on Saturday in New York in which four players played at least 35 minutes, including a team-high 46 for Terry Rozier. The Hornets were led by Miles Bridges, who scored 30 points off the bench after missing the previous six games due to health and safety protocols. Bridges scored 16 of his 30 points in the third quarter, leading Charlotte back from a 17-point second half deficit.

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