Washington (USA), May 20 (EFE) .- Nothing changed, the third game of the controversial play-in tournament of the Eastern Conference, mounted by the NBA to televise more games, left the Washington Wizards as great winners at beat the Indiana Pacers 142-115 and secure eighth place in the playoffs, the same place they ended the regular season.
Once again the figure of star point guard Russell Westbrook shone in a special way in the Wizards game by contributing a double-double, while guard Bradley Beal only needed 29 minutes to be the team’s leading scorer with 25 points.
Both led the Wizards unstoppably to the first round of the playoffs that will begin Sunday against the Philadelphia Sixers, the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference, who will have the advantage of the field.
Washington, who led by 38 points, will face Cameroonian center Joel Embiid, who tonight has been chosen among the finalists for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, an award that Westbrook already owns.
Regardless of the outcome of the duel against the Sixers, the Wizards, under the leadership of the claimed coach Scott Brooks, the Washington team has already deserved all the respect of the NBA after reaching the top eights when at The beginning of April had a losing record of 17-32.
Quite the opposite of what happened with the Pacers, that Indiana’s streak of five consecutive appearances in the playoffs ended in the season of coach Nate Bjorkgren’s debut.
Just over a week after breaking Oscar Robertson’s career record for most triple-doubles in the regular season, Westbrook finished against the Pacers with 18 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds.
While Beal, second in the NBA in the list of best scorers in the NBA for two years in a row, was always the decisive player in the attack of the Wizars and with a triple he established a 30-point advantage for the 98-68 quarter. with about four minutes left in the third period.
Beal, his scoring inspiration and complete dominance of the Wizards allowed him to sit for the entire fourth period, regaining strength for what will be the great duel against the Sixers, while Westbrook was left out the last 8 minutes of the game after hitting his slippers to a fan.
One of many among the official attendance of 5,333 people who witnessed the game and who when Westbrook was in the personnel line began to shout “MVP!” To him, as did his own partner, the Cuban American center. Robin López, in a loving and mocking way.
Japanese power forward Rui Hachimura scored 18 points, 10 more than against the Boston Celtics in the first game of the play-in tournament, while Latvian forward Davis Bertans started 0-for-2 on 3-pointers, after a night of 0 for 7 on Tuesday, but he claimed two consecutive triples and ended up with nine in reserve.
But it would be the Brazilian point guard Raúl Neto who would become the winning factor by continuing to start and contribute 14 points after scoring 5 of 8 shots from the field, including 2 of 4 triples, and he was perfect from the personnel line after playing 26 minutes .
Neto also captured three rebounds – all defensive -, recovered two balls, lost one and committed two personal fouls.
While center Daniel Gafford, although he came out of reserve, imposed his power under the hoops by achieving a double-double of 15 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks, which places him as a key player in the series against the Sixers when he has to face Embiid.
Gafford set the best block record in team history by getting them all in the first half.
The Wizards went 17-6 in the final six weeks of the season to finish with the eighth-best record in the East, the same record they secured in the play-in against the Pacers who had won the opener of the inning tournament by 144-117 against the Charlotte Hornets, the first team to be eliminated under the new format.
Washington averaged 139.7 points as he swept the three-game season series against the Pacers, whom he once again dominated in every facet of the game.
The Wizards are back in the playoffs after missing the last two years before acquiring Westbrook in a trade that sent John Wall to Houston, where he has been a complete disappointment by staying plagued by injury problems.
The Washington team faced a Covid-19 outbreak that affected more than half of its roster and caused a two-week hiatus.
The team also lost two season starters to injuries including first round rookie, Israeli forward Deni Avdija (broken right ankle) and center Thomas Bryant (torn left knee ligament).
Point guard Malcolm Brogdon led Indiana with 24 points, while Lithuanian power forward Domantas Sabonis had a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists before fouling early in the fourth quarter. , without being able to avoid defeat and start the vacation early.
(c) EFE Agency