Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal didn’t give the Indiana Pacers the slightest choice. The guard and guard of the Washington Wizards drove their team that swept their rival 142-115 and qualified to play the playoffs, in whose first round he will face the Sixers.
The Wizards, after losing the first game of the Play-in against the Celtics, they took the last ticket in play to play the qualifying rounds for the title. In this way, they asserted their excellent finish to the regular season with 17 wins in their last 23 games. Nothing to do with their disastrous start to the season, when they lost 15 of their first 20 games or 32 of the first 49, already in April. The transformation ran hand in hand with Westbrook’s improved performance, which surpassed the career record of 182 triple-doubles set by the legendary Oscar Robertson. The Wizards point guard was close to adding to the Pacers what would have been his 39th triple-double this season, but he didn’t need to work hard and was enough with 18 points, 8 assists and 15 rebounds. Bradley Beal, second in the top scorer standings this season with an average of 31.3 points, finished against the Pacers with 25 points; Hachimura, with 18; and Gafford, with 15 points and 13 rebounds. The Wizards were far superior and came to have a 38-point lead.
The Pacers suffered the losses of their second leading scorer, Caris LeVert, the NBA’s leader in the block rankings, Myles Turner, and also TJ Warren and Jeremy Lamb. And also, Sabonis had to leave the court early, eliminated by fouls after adding a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists. Along with him, only Brogdon stood out, with 24 points. But the Pacers were overwhelmed by the Wizards’ offensive speed and efficiency, especially in the third quarter that ended with a 48-31 run.
Washington: Westbrook (18), Neto (14), Beal (25), Hachimura (18), Len (4) -starting team-; Hutchison (6), Bertans (9), Gafford (15), R. Lopez (9), Smith (8), Gill (10), Matthews (3) and Bonga (3).
Indiana: Brogdon (24), Holiday (6), McDermott (13), Brissett (10), Sabonis (19) -starting team-; Bitadze (0), McConnell (4), Sumner (5), Holiday (7), Martin (13), Brimah (3) and Stanley (11).
Partial: 30-29, 36-23, 48-31 and 28-32
Capital One Arena by Washintgon
Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid and Stephen Curry are the finalists for the MVP award, for the best player of the season. Jokic, the 26-year-old Serbian center, has led the Denver Nuggets with averages of 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists, with 56.6% shooting from the field and 38% shooting from the field. triples. Jokic is the big favorite to win the award for the first time. Joel Embiid, the 27-year-old center from Cameroon, would also make his debut. His performances have been vital for the Sixers, who finished first in the Eastern Conference. In the 51 games he has played, he has averaged 28.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 blocks.
Curry has been a two-time MVP and aspires to match players who have won it three times: Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Moses Malone. Curry, 33, has become the oldest player this season since Michael Jordan, who wins the title of leading scorer with an average of 32 points. He has played 63 games and has also averaged 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists with a 42% accuracy in the triples.
The finalists for the Defensive Player of the Year award are French center Rudy Gobert (Utah), who has already won the previous two years, Australian point guard Ben Simmons (Sixers) and forward Draymond Green (Golden State), winner in 2017. The finalists for the rookie of the year award are 19-year-old point guard LaMelo Ball (Charlotte), 19-year-old guard Antohny Edwards (Minnesota) and 21-year-old point guard Tyrese Haliburton (Sacamento). And the three who will compete for the title to the Best Sixth Man in the League are Australian forward Joe Ingles (Utah), guard-point guard Jordan Clarkson (Utah) and point guard Derrick Rose (Knicks). The three designated to contest the Most Improved Player throne are forward Julius Randle (Knicks), forward Jerami Grant (Detroit) and forward Michael Porter (Denver). The trio of coaches from which the best of the season will win are Tom Thibodeau (Knicks), winner in 2011, Monty Williams (Phoenix) and Quin Snyder (Utah).