Preview: Wizards host Pacers Thursday in elimination Play-In game
The Wizards will host the Pacers on Thursday at 8:00 P.M. at Capital One Arena in each teams’ second game of the NBA Play-In Tournament. The winner of the game will advance to the playoffs as the eight-seed and the loser will be eliminated from postseason contention.
Capital One Arena | 8:00 P.M. | TNT | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Russell Westbrook, G – Raul Neto, G – Bradley Beal, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Alex Len
Pacers: G – Malcolm Brogdon, G – Justin Holiday, F – Doug McDermott, F – Oshae Brissett, C – Domantas Sabonis
Wizards: Deni Avdija (right ankle fracture – out), Thomas Bryant (left ACL injury – out)
Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon (sore right hamstring – questionable), Jeremy Lamb (sore left knee – out), Caris LeVert (health and safety protocols – out), Edmond Sumner (left knee contusion – questionable), Myles Turner (right toe partial plantar plate tear – out), T.J. Warren (left foot stress fracture – out)
Washington’s late-season surge provides second chance in Play-In
The Wizards’ loss in Boston and the Pacers’ home win over the Hornets on Tuesday night set up a do-or-die game for both teams on Thursday night. Under the NBA’s new Play-In rules, the winner of the 7-8 game (Boston) would advance to play two-seed Brooklyn – and loser of the 7-8 game (Washington) would face the winner of the 9-10 game (Indiana) for the eight-seed and the right to face one-seed Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs. A strong finish to the regular season pushed the Wizards from 13th up to eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, giving them two chances to win their way into the playoffs.
“My head isn’t down,” Bradley Beal said postgame on Tuesday. “I told the guys the same thing – this is where we wanted to be, giving ourselves an opportunity to get to seventh…and if not, we still get another opportunity at the back end at home. Our heads are up and we’re getting ready for Indiana on Thursday.”
Wizards and Pacers renew thrilling season series
Thursday’s matchup will be the fourth installment in what was one of the most exciting offensive series across the entire league this season. The Wizards won all three of the teams’ previous matchups, the most recent of which was a one-point overtime victory in which Russell Westbrook delivered a game-sealing block in overtime. Westbrook tied Oscar Robertson for the most triple-doubles in NBA history, a record he would go on to break in his next game. All three games were high-scoring and fast-paced. Indiana, who lost all three games, averaged 132.3 points per game against the Wizards this season. Washington averaged 139.6 points per game.
The teams’ May 3 game in D.C., a 154-141 shootout win for the Wizards, clocked in as the second-fastest-paced game the NBA has on record. It was the Wizards’ fifth-highest scoring performance in franchise history. Washington’s 50 assists were the most by a team since 1990. Westbrook finished with 14 points, 21 rebounds and 24 assists while Beal and Rui Hachimura combined for 53 points.
Indiana arrives in D.C. after blowout Play-In win
The Pacers are coming off a dominant win over the Hornets in the 9-10 game of the Play-In Tournament. Eight players scored in double figures as Indiana led wire-to-wire and by as many as 39 points in the fourth quarter – on their way to a 144-117 win. While Oshae Brissett and Doug McDermott’s 20-point performances led the way in the scoring department, it was once again Domantas Sabonis who set the tone for the Pacers. Sabonis totaled 14 points, 21 rebounds and nine assists in the win. In three games against the Wizards this season, Sabonis is averaging 32.3 points, 14.3 rebounds and 9.3 assists per game.
“Sabonis is a handful,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said on Wednesday. “(He’s an) All-Star player, hard guy to guard. You know which way he’s going to go. You know which shoulder he’s going to go over. You know which block he’s going to go on. You know what shot fake he’s going to use. You know that. But he’s good, he’s crafty, he’s tricky and he gets you to bite on some of his stuff. But we’ve got three pretty good centers to counter their bigs.”